Non-Conforming Building Cladding.
Non-Conforming Building Cladding.

Jail guards’ protest sparks hospital risk

AS Queensland prison guards continue to protest their working conditions, the campaign has created a potentially dangerous situation involving criminals in hospital.

The Courier-Mail can reveal officers are working "to rule" at the Princess Alexandra Hospital secure unit, finishing and starting on time.

Officers say management has directed them to leave the secure unit 10 minutes early before the end of their 12-hour shift to put gear away to ensure they finish on time and do not do any overtime.

Instead of turning up to work early the following shift is starting on time, causing the overlap gap on shift handovers.

It has opened a window where prisoners are left with just medical staff in the high-security unit which has 12 single inpatient beds.

"There is no custodial staff left in the secure unit for at least 10 minutes," an officer told The Courier-Mail.

"With only nurses left there all the cells are secured but if there is an emergency there is no one there to open a door."

Industrial services director of the Together union Michael Thomas said: "We believe this is a significant security concern and the practical effect is for 10-15 minutes there will be no correctional officers within the unit with the prisoners and remaining Queensland Health staff."

A Queensland Corrective Services spokeswoman said the unit was small and highly controlled with rigorous risk management processes and was like a prison within a hospital environment.

"At shift changeover, the rooms are locked (just as in a prison), and a brief handover occurs at the door of the unit," she said.

"Should a medical emergency occur, officers would simply unlock the door.

"In the event of high-risk prisoners being in the unit, additional custodial staff are allocated to their direct surveillance, security and management, 24 hours per day."

But Mr Thomas said there was "nothing simple about it" when it came to officers not being inside the unit.

"There are a number of security barriers to pass through," he said.

"It is certainly our view that this does create an unnecessary safety risk to those inside."