Guards protest at Akubras in NSW hospital

Rachel Gray

While an Akubra hat and RM Williams' boots may be ideal for an outback Aussie jackaroo or jillaroo, security guards at some Sydney hospitals are refusing to wear them as part of their new uniform.

About 60 security guards at hospitals including Royal Prince Alfred, Concord, Sydney Dental and Canterbury are expected to wear the new outfits that include an Akubra hat, RM Williams' riding boots, a suit, tie and shirt.

RPA security guard Peter Bachen is one of a handful who is refusing to wear the uniform because he says it hinders his ability to do his job and is a waste of public money.

"During the initial trial of the suit, I got recognised as a doctor, an FBI agent and an undertaker," Mr Bachen told AAP at the hospital.

"I don't mind wearing the (Akubra) hat if I am out in the bush but I look silly with it while wearing a suit," he said.

He and his colleagues are instead wearing union T-shirts as they protest the "inappropriate" uniforms imposed by management.

Health Services Union NSW branch secretary Gerard Hayes said it "beggars belief" the security officers are expected to wear an Akubra hat, suit and boots while interacting and caring for patients.

"It's not like you're a concierge at the Hilton," Mr Hayes told AAP.

"People will vomit on you, officers will be dealing with patients who may be distressed and violent, and ice addicts in the emergency department."

Mr Bachen says hospital guards are on their feet for about 12 hours a day, and walking up to 15km in a pair of RM Williams' boots is not practical for the hard floors of hospital wards.

"Out on the farm they are beautiful because you are walking on grass and dirt and that is softer," he said.

Sydney Local Health District chief executive Teresa Anderson said they wanted a uniform that had a sense of authority and looked professional after patients described the previous uniform as too intimidating.

The new uniform costs about $1000 for the Akubra hat, a clip-on tie, shirt, suit and RM Williams' boots.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Wednesday he supports the Local Health District in that an Akubra is the best way to keep staff sun safe when they are outside.

"I think an Akubra - as a good ol' Aussie hat - is as good as anything," Mr Hazard told reporters on Wednesday.

Mr Hazzard said he will be speaking Health Services Union member about the security guards' new uniforms later on Wednesday.