Christchurch Hospital staff terrified and angry at CDHB response after two assaults in a month
Terrified Christchurch Hospital staff say not enough is being done to protect them as it emerges another assault happened a month before a nurse was attacked on Saturday.
Stuff reported this week that a nurse's assault by a masked man pressing what may have been a firearm to her head was the third reported incident around the hospital in 18 months.
It has now emerged that a fourth incident happened in early March.
A hospital staffer was pushed to the ground by a stranger as she walked to a staff car park about 11pm.
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She called out to where a security guard would usually be stationed, but no-one came.
Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) chief executive David Meates said in a written statement that an investigation found the guard on duty that night had been held up temporarily with another matter.
Four full-time permanent guards were on duty at all times in the evening, with extra guards called in as required.
Police and CDHB security patrols had been stepped up around the hospital and at shift change times. A trial shuttle service taking staff back to CDHB car parking sites between 9pm and 1am would start soon.
Staff could ask for an escort back to their cars but might have to wait until one was available, Meates said.
A hospital nurse, speaking anonymously, said the CDHB's additional safety measures were "as good as nothing".
"They install things like a patrol car and a couple of security guards to make the public think they are doing something.
"One patrol car for the massive area in which we have to park wouldn't even be able to see or hear what happens off the road."
The CDHB published a "ridiculous pamphlet" with advice including parking in well-lit areas and walking in groups – "pretty much none of which is possible as there is nowhere to park for one car, let alone a group", she said.
Asking security for an escort often meant a wait of 45 minutes or longer, and some staff carried box cutters in their hands for safety.
"One has to wonder how many more times this has to happen before they actually help us," she said.
"Everyone is just sick of the b...s... methods they say will help us. People are just very over it and angry."
A shuttle service to car parks around the city, or having more security guards available to escort staff to their cars, would be a good solution, the nurse said.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) organiser Christin Watson said not having a regular security guard on the route to the car parking sites was "a long standing concern".
"There are very few security staff at night and they are often busy with other work."
The NZNO had been raising concerns about the lack of safe car parking for afternoon staff for several years, and members started a petition asking hospital managers to provide safe and adequate car parking options in February.
More than 500 staff are on waiting lists for two staff car parking buildings.
Meates told staff in his latest weekly newsletter that 150 street car parks in Oxford Tce and Tuam St would be lost due to road changes, adding to what was already a far from ideal situation.
The CDHB was working with the Christchurch City Council, inner city developers and other organisations to find additional car parks around the hospital.