A NSW Health boss has fended off an accusation he runs one of the most dangerous health districts in the state after “flesh was torn” from a hospital worker’s body in a vicious attack.
Mid North Coast Local Health District chief executive Stewart Dowrick said he had apologised to staff over the January 2021 incident at Port Macquarie Base Hospital that left five workers injured.
“I do sincerely apologise for those who got injured at the time, but I do think the staff did their best in a very difficult situation in the early hours of that morning,” he told a parliamentary inquiry into rural health outcomes on Tuesday.
The incident came to light several days later when a union released a statement about what had happened.
The statement said one staffer was bitten on the shoulder so badly some “flesh was torn”.
Another was slammed to the ground and suffered a concussion, while a third person broke five ribs and tore cartilage.
Two other people were also treated, one for a suspected broken arm and the other for bruises and cuts.
Mr Dowrick was asked by Labor MP Walt Secord if he was in charge of “one of the most dangerous local health districts in the state for staff and patients”.
“I don’t believe that we operate one of the most unsafe and insecure facilities, we have very good security measures across the district,” he said.
“This was a one-off event.”
Mr Dowrick said staff members who blew the whistle about the event had been supported, received apologies and been assisted through the workers’ compensation process.
“We gave apologies to some of those individuals and support them as best we can,” he said.
Police said at the time a 40-year-old patient had been taken to the hospital under police guard for a mental health assessment.
The man allegedly became agitated and assaulted five men who worked at the hospital, police said.
Health Services Union state secretary Gerard Hayes called it a “bloody violent attack” and demanded better security for staff.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said at the time he was “appalled” by the incident.
“He shares the concerns of the HSU,” a spokesperson for the minister said.
“To have health and security staff attacked when they are doing their job of looking after patients and the community is nothing short of atrocious. If it is found the safety protocols need to be changed, they will be.”
Source: Perth Now