‘Shocking’ toll of assaults reveals 188 NHS staff are attacked every day

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NHS chiefs have condemned another significant rise in assaults against health staff.

Numbers of attacks rose nearly nine per cent in 2013-14 in England to nearly 68,700 - a rate of 188 every day.

There was an increase in criminal sanctions against perpetrators of 13 per cent to 1,650.

Staff at Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services, saw the fifth highest rate of attacks in the country, with 1,143 assaults - around 360 for every 1,000 staff - although no offenders faced penalties.

In the region, hospital staff were most likely to be assaulted in Barnsley, where there were 106 assaults, up 171 per cent. Nine people faced sanctions.

Attackers were most likely to face penalties after assaults on Yorkshire Ambulance Service staff which were up 62 per cent. Twenty five of around 110 people who attacked crews were handed sanctions.

Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison, said: “There can be no excuse for abusing or assaulting staff and all incidents should be taken very seriously.

“Sadly, violence on NHS premises often goes unreported and many workers are left to suffer in silence.

“Both employers and the police need to take these incidents seriously particularly in mental health premises where we expect full support and cooperation to guarantee the safety and security of staff.”

Ian Horner, local security management specialist at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, branded the number of attacks “shocking”.

He said: “Any attacks on our staff, both verbal and physical, are completely unacceptable.

“We operate a zero tolerance policy towards violent and aggressive behaviour and action will be taken against those who assault our staff. It is appalling that ambulance service staff who do a difficult job, often in challenging circumstances, can be physically and verbally attacked as they try to save lives.”

Clive Clarke, deputy chief executive at the Sheffield health and social care trust, said the increase in incidents was due to better reporting and was “not an increase in general levels of violence”, with many incidents “pushing and shoving” which were not previously reported.

“He added: “We encourage our staff and service users to report incidents of violence to the police, where they feel that is the right thing to do, and we actively support them to do so. Decisions regarding prosecutions are not made by this trust.”