A PRISONER has allegedly broken free from police custody in Tamworth hospital before being taken down by its security guards.
Jett Fitzroy was under police guard on Monday when his handcuffs were removed so he could go to the bathroom.
He allegedly escaped, ran about 10 metres to the nursing station and then into the emergency department.
The quick work of the hospital guards led to Fitzroy allegedly caught there and put back under arrest.
Oxley Police District detectives have charged the 24-year-old with attempting to escape police custody.
It's alleged the incident took place about 7.40am when Fitzroy broke free from an officer's grasp.
He faced Tamworth Local Court on Tuesday and was refused bail to appear again on November 11.
Hospital staff have called for an immediate security upgrade, saying patients were put at risk by the escape.
Health Services Union (HSU) and Tamworth hospital security officer Jeff Knee said it could have been a lot worse.
"Sheer luck prevented a violent incident from unfolding here on Monday," he said.
"We only have two security officers rostered on at any one time and they are rarely together.
"I hate to think what would have happened if either officer had to deal with a violent, angry, escaped prisoner alone."
HSU NSW secretary Gerard Hayes said the health system could not continue to rely on luck and goodwill.
"There are more than 40 assaults in hospitals each month, and chronic understaffing of security means patients, visitors and staff are dicing with death," he said.
"This is simply unacceptable. [Tamworth MP] Kevin Anderson must stop making apologies for his Liberal Party mates and instead stand up for a safe, secure Tamworth hospital."
Mr Anderson said it was deeply worrying that someone in police custody could escape.
"If the Health Services Union have ideas on how police may have handled this situation differently, I encourage them to contact NSW Police directly with their advice."