A Hawke's Bay mental health nurse remains off work more than three weeks after she was choked unconscious by a patient.

The incident took place on the mental health ward at Hawke's Bay Hospital on November 18 and has raised serious questions as to the safety of staff on the ward.

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Hawke's Bay organiser Sue Eising-Wolland said the Health and Safety of members is of "concern" to NZNO, as is the safety of all members nationally.

"It is absolutely unacceptable for anyone to feel scared to go to work because they could be harmed. A safely-staffed healthy workplace environment is what members are entitled to and must be provided."


She said the nurse has yet to be cleared by her doctor.

They were working with the HBDHB to "foster a collaborative approach to resolve the health and safety concerns of members" and ongoing meetings were taking place regarding the issues.

"As a result of the current concerns in the Mental Health Service, a Mental Health Nurses Forum has been established.

"It has been agreed it will be with NZNO and the DHB management to confirm the risk issues and assign responsibility. The risk management at the hospital is not at an acceptable level and must be improved immediately."

It is understood that since the incident, security has been increased to two people per shift and they were working on getting the patient in question "appropriately placed to better meet [their] needs straight away".

A Hawke's Bay District Health Board spokeswoman previously said it had launched an investigation into how the event occurred, and notified police.

Eising-Wolland said it was up to the nurse to decide whether they wanted to contact police or not.

"A person can be prosecuted, it just needs to be referred to the police and then they will decide."