| 01.08,19. 09:31 PM |
More than 20,000 NSW hospital workers walk off the job
More than 20,000 workers went on strike today over workplace safety concerns after a vote by Health Services Union delegates in July.
Some took their battle directly to the Ministry of Health with a march.
The Ministry called in guards, to protect their offices from the crowds.
Gerard Hayes from the Health Services Union, said: "They are so worried about this outrageous crowd that we have here, they have extra security on."
"This is all about protecting patients, visitors and workers in hospitals," Mr Hayes told Today."
The HSU says strikes were taking place at a number of hospitals across the state - including Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred, Royal North Shore, Westmead Children's as well as Wollongong, Tamworth, Wagga and Dubbo.
Prince of Wales workers marched through Randwick, while striking workers at Blacktown claim they were photographed by HR.
At Nepean - workers who've seen two shootings in two years - voted to stay off the job for four hours.
Health Minister, Brad Hazard called the strike "disappointing".
"We don't take this action lightly. But we will be ensuring that patients are cared for.
"The community is aware that their hospitals are somewhat under threat from this violence."
Mr Hayes did admit there could be some delays for "routine matters" and said while doctors and nurses won't walk off the job they are in support of the action.
Staff say they constantly witness attacks.
There are about 40 assaults in the hospital system in NSW every month and the union is asking for $50 million to put more security guards in hospitals.
Paramedics are also taking action. They are refusing to charge patients for their ambulance transfers to hospital for four hours from 10am until 2pm.
Workers will take the opportunity to discuss the failure of the NSW Department of Health in addressing their concerns over hospital safety and security while on strike, the union said in a statement.
Last night the Department of Health issued a statement yesterday claiming reports "suggesting some 22,000 workers will stop work ... are not accurate".
The Ministry has agreed to a trial of extra security guards on the Central Coast
But the union wants 250 extra guards in Sydney alone - with increased powers to detain aggressive patients.