Five beds remain closed at Shellharbour Hospital's busy mental health service, with management struggling to find staff to fill the gaps.
The Mercury first reported that up to seven beds in the 20-bed acute Eloura unit were closed - and two beds in the Mirrabrook unit - back in November.
At the time, there were concerns from the nurses' union that mental health patients were being shifted to surgical wards due to staffing shortages in the specialist mental health units.
Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District mental health director Julie Carter this week confirmed that while additional staff had been recruited, there remained workforce gaps.
"To ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and consumers, the unit has been temporarily reconfigured to assist in providing appropriate staffing," she said.
"Five beds remain closed across the unit however the service is managing demand within the unit."
Ms Carter said the unit would return to its original configuration once it was fully staffed, yet there were difficulties attracting staff.
"The recruitment of clinicians is challenging in regional areas across Australia," she said. "However, we are making progress with our recruitment to the mental health service."
Late last year, staff within the unit also raised concerns for their own safety - and the safety of other patients - while dealing with some of the most volatile patients.
They claimed staff shortages, lack of support from management and insufficient training had made the unit's high-care area dangerous.
A SafeWork NSW investigation issued management with an improvement notice last August, stating staff were "at risk of psychological injury" due to the way misconduct allegations were handled.
Ms Carter said the mental health service was continually working to improve care and safety within the units.
Recent initiatives included implementing a range of capital improvements, purchasing specialised equipment, and providing additional training and support for staff.
"Working in partnership with SafeWork NSW, significant change has also been implemented over the past 18 months in the areas of safety culture, staff safety representation, policies and procedures," she said.
"A regular safety meeting attended by the NSW Nurse and Midwives Association has been established to ensure ongoing improvement in staff and consumer safety."
It's not the first time the hospital's mental health service has come under scrutiny in recent years.
Last December, Berkeley man Marc Dudley spoke out after being king hit while a patient in the hospital's mental health unit. Meantime a man pleaded guilty last week in Wollongong court last week to the assault of two other male patients at the Eloura unit in December 2018.
The health district was unable to comment on specific incidents involving consumers due to privacy legislation.
"Any time an incident occurs at one of our facilities involving consumers, we follow strict NSW Health policies around the timely and appropriate management of an incident," she said.
"This includes a thorough internal investigation, open discussions with families and referral to external organisations, including police, when required."
Ms Carter said the majority of mental health consumers did not display agitated or aggressive behaviours. However some of those with complex conditions may at times exhibit "behaviours that may pose safety risks".
"For those consumers identified as high risk, a risk management plan is developed that is reviewed daily by the multidisciplinary team, including medical and nursing staff."