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Nurses go grey for more hospital swipe cards after knife attack

Nurses and midwives at Blacktown Hospital are wearing grey armbands to highlight the need for improved safety after a patient attacked their colleague with a knife.

NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) members hope the move sparks changes to hospital security, including swipe-access locks on doors to staff-only areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, and also wards.

A nurse was attacked at the hospital on Monday night by an agitated patient who allegedly entered the staff tea room and took hold of two knives.

She was unaware the man was armed when she attempted to take him back to his room when he allegedly slashed at her wrists and clothes with the knives.

The 47-year-old patient was subsequently transferred to Westmead Hospital and charged with wounding a person with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

NSWNMA assistant general secretary Judith Kiejda said there must be more measures in place to protect nurses and midwives when they’re on the job, “so their focus is on caring for patients, not the possibility of being violently assaulted”.

"Management hub is located in that building and it is secure, so the rest of the building should be just as secure," Kiejda said. "Management has an obligation to check for foreseeable risks and see that staff are safe."

Opposition health spokesman Walt Secord has thrown his support behind the push for swipe card security, noting that it is being installed at state parliament.

“If it’s good enough for parliamentarians, then it’s good enough for hospital staff,” Secord said.

Union president Christine Boxsell said while the nurse was doing well physically, it will take her time to get her around the attack. “It was a very scary experience for her to go through.”

Kiejda said the nurses at Blacktown Hospital are not feeling safe. "They wont feel safe until those swipes are in place."

"We want management to look after her and anybody else who was invovled. They need counselling and one off-couselling.

“They’re not feeling as though they’re valued enough for the employer to make sure they’re safe,” Kiejda said. “But I think everything gets down to the bottom line.”

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