With a number of armed incidents in south Auckland making headlines, the Counties Manukau DHB is reviewing its emergency lockdown plans to deal with such events.
The issue was outlined in the minutes of a DHB meeting from late last year after concerns were raised by board member Garry Boles about heightened risk of armed violence in the community.
Counties Manukau Health chief executive Margie Apa explained that Middlemore Hospital has escalation procedures that include different alert levels and how to initiate a lockdown.
Apa said it had discussed with NZ Police how it might lock down Hospital Rd if needed, manage the site and constrain visitors. The report states: "We do constantly need to keep reviewing these procedures and this will be on the new head of security's work plan."
The board asked for the escalation procedures to be checked with NZ Police to ensure they were sufficient and to work out what they might need to do to improve them and report back in Apa's next report to this month's board meeting.
A report from Counties Manukau Health's head of security was also expected to be included in the chief executive's report.
Recent incidents in the area involving gun crime highlight the reason for the board member's concerns.
In November there was a spate of firearms incidents in Ōtara. Auckland also saw two aggravated robberies, involving firearms, last month.
According to a Counties Manukau Health spokesperson the "heightened risk of armed violence in the community" raised by Boles didn't relate to any particular event or incident on the DHB's property.
They said it is constantly reviewing its processes to ensure they are fit for purpose for all incidents – armed or otherwise.
The spokesperson said the lockdown procedures are designed to cover events where a patient has been injured outside of the hospital, but there is a risk to their safety during treatment.
They said the DHB has a solid working relationship with the police and they have input into its security procedures.
A police spokesperson said the firearms incidents are not new and are not confined to a single region.
"Police have made a number of arrests for firearms-related matters and will continue to hold those committing offences to account. Police work closely with our partner agencies on a range of matters including offering advice around operational matters."
And it appears the Auckland District Health Board has also been working on its own lockdown procedures. A report to last month's board meeting shows it has introduced its own Code Black response for critical security incidents.
According to the DHB the procedures are designed for responding to abductions, firearms, offensive weapons (non-firearm) and chemical, biological, radioactive or explosive devices or substances requiring emergency services support.