IT'S supposed to be a place of recovery and healing.
But too often all hell breaks loose.
It's not a wild west saloon where Jeff Knee works.
It's Tamworth hospital.
Mr Knee is a security guard at the region's largest hospital and the president of the local Health Services Union branch.
Today he will join 22,000 colleagues across the state walking off the job for four hours demanding a safer working environment in the state's public hospitals.
Mr Knee has been on front line at Tamworth and said the community needed to stand up and demand better service from the government.
"That place can become a war-zone without notice," he told the Leader.
"And we're seeing it on a shift-by-shift basis, these are not isolated incidents."
He said staff had been assaulted at Tamworth and other issues were compounding the abuse.
"Because staff are so thin on the ground here, we have a history of under-reporting," he said.
"They don't have time to sit down after the shift to fill out reports and all of the rest of it.
"Our problems in regional areas are a little bit different to metro areas because we don't always have staff on duty after hours to deal with critical situations.
"While we have a very good rapport with the police, they can't always be at our beck and call; they've got the rest of the community to look after which makes it even more difficult."
When the union workers walk-off work today it will be one of the biggest industrial actions taken in the NSW health sector in recent years.
There is expected to be 2,839 members across the Hunter New England Local Health District alone taking part in the strike.
The union has called on the government to employ "250 extra security officers with special constable powers" to improve safety in hospitals.
Mr Knee said, however, the whole community needed to back the cause and called on locals to demand more from their representatives.
"Politicians in Macquarie Street have special constables roaming the building constantly," he said.
"Meanwhile, in our hospitals, the most vulnerable people in society, the sick and infirm, have to defend themselves.
"It's time regional communities stood up and said 'no more'."
The union staff, including paramedics, cleaners, hospital administration, security guards and other allied health workers, will strike between 10am and 2pm.
The Nurses and Midwives Association supports the strike in principle and will remain at bedside caring for patients.