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Prisoner Escapes From Hospital, Major Police Operation Underway

Police are searching for a prisoner who escaped from a hospital on the NSW mid north coast.

Matthew Furner, 28, was last seen running west from the Oxley Highway near Lake Road after absconding from Port Macquarie Base Hospital on Sunday.

He was under guard by officers from Corrective Services NSW when he escaped shortly before 8am, NSW Police said.

Speaking to media on Sunday afternoon, police said he had escaped during "a time of bathing and using toilet facilities", despite two correctional officers being in his presence. How he escaped is now a matter of investigation.

It's believed the prisoner -- who had presented the night before with injuries to his neck -- ran into bushland to the west of the hospital, but may have now doubled back into a residential area near the racecourse.

A "warning shot" was fired from a correctional guard during the escape, but police stressed this did not happen inside the hospital.

"Any person that has escaped, they've escaped for a reason," Detective Chief Inspector Guy Flaherty of the Port Macquarie police command said.

"With any escapee, our position is: do not contact this person, call Triple Zero of CrimeStoppers. Any person who has escaped custody will do what they can to remain at large, and we advise people not to approach him."

A large-scale search involving local police, Traffic and Highway Patrol Command, the Dog Unit and PolAir is now underway.

Furner is described as being of Caucasian appearance, 180cm tall, with a slim build and a shaved head with a rats tail. He also had bandages to his neck.

He was last seen wearing prison greens -- t-shirt and tracksuit pants.