Australia

Manhunt underway after prisoner escapes from NSW hospital

An image released by NSW Police of Matthew Furner. Source: AAP

A large scale search is underway for a 28-year-old prisoner who escaped from Port Macquarie Base Hospital wearing prison greens.

A manhunt is under way after an inmate wearing prison greens escaped from a hospital into bushland on NSW's mid-north coast.

Matthew Furner, 28, was being treated under guard by Corrective Services NSW officers when he absconded from Port Macquarie Base Hospital before 8am on Sunday.

He was brought in on Saturday after sustaining injuries to his neck at the Mid-North Coast Correctional Centre.

One of the guards fired a warning shot into bushland adjacent to the hospital during Furner's escape.

A large-scale search for Furner includes local police, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, the dog unit and PolAir.

The hospital went into a restricted access lockdown over concerns Furner, who did not have shoes on and was only wearing shorts and possibly a t-shirt, would double back to seek cover.

While Furner didn't use a high level of violence against any of the staff during the escape, "obviously any person that has escaped, they've escaped for a reason, they don't want to be in custody," Detective Chief Inspector Guy Flaherty said.

Corrective Services guards were with Furner at all times while he was at the hospital and normal protocols were followed, Det Chief Insp Flaherty told reporters in Port Macquarie on Sunday afternoon.

"It was only during a time of bathing and using toilet facilities that he's fled," he said.

He was last seen about 10am in the Fernhill Road area adjacent to the local racecourse and police believe he may have doubled back there.

The dog squad has tracked an area to the west of the hospital across the Oxley Highway and back around, and the search is now focused on the area around the racecourse.

Police are urging members of the community to avoid the area and not to approach Furner if they see him.

Furner is described as being of Caucasian appearance, with a slim build, a tattoo on his neck, and a shaved head with a rat's tail.

He also has some injuries to his neck which have surgical dressings on them.

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