Safety of Middlemore health workers 'completely unacceptable' - nursing advisor

An attack on two medical staff at Middlemore Hospital has raised questions about employers' responsibilities around worker safety.

On Saturday morning, two intensive care unit (ICU) staff members were assaulted on Gray Ave near the Middlemore Western car park entrance as they finished their shift at Middlemore Hospital.

The attackers hid behind a wall before assaulting the pair, knocking one down and breaking the collar bone of the other before running off.

New Zealand Nursing Organisation (NZNO) adviser, Kate Weston, told The AM Show that concerns around worker safety at Middlemore have been growing for some time.

"There has been escalating concerns for probably the better part of a year that we're aware of.

"They are a concerning group of individuals who are waiting to prey on people for whatever reason, vandalising cars, stealing cars and, in an adjacent car park, a car was actually set alight.

"It's completely unacceptable and we really would like to see 24-hour security surveillance."

Middlemore staff currently need to cross a road and railway to access their assigned car park which is poorly lit and only partially monitored.

"The security at that site is not really sufficient because we would expect that anybody who's leaving a 12-hour shift in a hospital, looking after people at their worst and most vulnerable, that they're tired.

They're coming across to their car park which across the road and across a railway and it's a four-storey car park which is poorly lit, it's not fenced, there is no permanent security there and the CCTV footage that you're able to get is not monitored in real time.

"It's isolated and it's dangerous."

Weston says NZNO, as well as Middlemore staff, have gained little traction from discussions with the Counties-Manukau District Health Board (DHB).

"NZNO has raised these concerns with Counties Manukau DHB repeatedly, to the extent that staff actually staged a rally in the car park.

"How hard is it to keep nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants, midwives, safe, walking over to a car park? Health and safety would suggest you should be safe in your employment.

A statement from Counties Manukau DHB said security at Middlemore had been increased at its car park sites since May last year.

"We are appalled and devastated that any of our staff, all of whom dedicate their professional careers to saving lives, have to experience this kind of unprovoked violence," said chief executive Margie Apa.

Nurses have planned another rally calling for increased security, CCTV and extra lighting on Thursday at two o'clock in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, police say they have yet to receive a complaint about Saturday's incident from the victims, but Counties Manukau DHB told Newshub it has put a report in.

Due to fog, the identity of the attackers were obscured from the cameras and Counties Manukau security staff are working to obtain more security camera footage that may shed light on who they are.