Man charged after allegedly slashing staff at western Sydney hospital

The Guardian, 22 June 2024

Police attended Westmead hospital about 11.30pm on Friday after a man, 39, allegedly slashed and assaulted staff

A man has been charged after allegedly slashing two security guards and injuring a nurse as police investigate possible mental health and drug issues.

Police were called to Westmead hospital in western Sydney about 11.30pm on Friday after reports a man had assaulted staff.

The 39-year-old allegedly slashed two male security guards aged 24 and 25 causing laceration injuries, a police spokesperson said.

“They were cut rather than stabbed and there wasn’t any penetration,” he said.

A 29-year-old male nurse was injured in the attack, while a third security guard’s shoulder was dislocated.

The four were “all fine” with minor injuries that were treated on-site and did not require admission to hospital, the spokesperson said.

The man was placed under guard at the hospital before he was arrested and taken to Parramatta police station.

He was charged with five offences including two counts of assaulting a frontline health worker actual bodily harm, one count of assault frontline health worker no actual bodily harm, common assault and using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful detention. He was refused bail to appear before Parramatta local court on Sunday.

Police will look at the man’s mental health and drug use history to see whether they contributed to the alleged attack as investigations continue.

Western Sydney Local Health District, which operates Westmead hospital, said the affected workers were receiving ongoing support.

“There was no impact to other patients or patient care services,” a spokesperson said. “The safety of our staff, patients and visitors is the highest priority.”

The alleged attack on hospital staff was horrifying, the Health Services Union NSW secretary, Gerard Hayes, said.

The union said it would continue advocating for greater security numbers and powers at hospitals, and better personal protective equipment.

The NSW minister Jo Haylen said the incident was a serious concern, and the government would continue working to protect those doing critical work at hospitals across the state.

“The safety of our health workforce including security guards at our hospitals is obviously front of mind for government and we are concerned for their welfare,” she told reporters on Saturday. “It is absolutely important that people are safe at work.”