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Nurses won’t get more security: NSW govt

NSW govt has dismissed reports that hospitals have experienced a jump in violent incidents.

NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner says there are no plans to boost powers for hospital security following reports that assaults on nurses are on the rise.

Almost 30 per cent more hospital workers have filed worker's compensation claims involving physical assaults in public hospitals over the past three years, News Ltd reports.

The biggest rise in claims was by nurses, up 42 per cent from 2008/09 to 2010/11.

The Health Services Union told the paper the figures represented only the "tip of the iceberg" as many assaults aren't reported.

But Skinner said new reporting methods could account for the jump.

"What I'm advised is that we've gone to a new reporting framework where people can actually, and are obliged, to report assaults," she told reporters in Sydney.

"They can now report online, and there is much greater support for those who have reported assaults.

"So we expect some of this improved reporting, but I want to stress that violence is not tolerated within the health system, and we have procedures in place to try and keep staff and everybody as safe as possible."

Skinner also dismissed moves by the HSU for a statewide campaign for hospital security officers to get more powers.

"We have a variety of measures that security officers can take," she said.

"We have duress alarms for staff in appropriate places; we have secure entrances, particularly at night when some hospitals have many entrances.

"I believe that we've got the sort of things in place that are needed.

"There is no plans at the moment to up the powers or anything that security officers would carry.

"I think that is a union campaign," she said.

More graduates nurses for NSW

Elsewhere, Skinner said 2000 new nurses and midwives been hired to work in NSW hospitals.

About 1100 graduates have been employed already and a further 900 have accepted offers and will start work in the next few months, Skinner said on Monday.

"These additional nurses are using their knowledge and skills in a wide variety of roles from medical to surgical, emergency roles as well as maternity and mental health care services," she said in a statement.

"They have started their new roles at a time when public hospitals and emergency departments are treating more patients than ever before, providing round the-clock-care to 1.5 million patients ... each year."

The coalition government promised to employ 2475 new nurses when it won the March 2011 state election.


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