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Rise in attacks on health staff

PUBLISHED: 09:54 23 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:42 03 July 2010

Scores of health staff are being attacked while on duty, shocking new figures have revealed.

Statistics released by the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) show there were 95 assaults during the year covering 2008-09 - up from the previous year's figure of 84.

Scores of health staff are being attacked while on duty, shocking new figures have revealed.

Statistics released by the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) show there were 95 assaults during the year covering 2008-09 - up from the previous year's figure of 84.

Meanwhile the latest annual figures show 76 assaults at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, 72 at the Queen Elizabeth, in Kings Lynn, and 59 at the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston.

The ambulance trust said any violence to staff was considered “completely unacceptable”, but said it had encouraged staff to report incidents, which may be responsible for the rise.

Neil Storey, interim associate director of A&E services for EEAS, said: “We also train our staff to undertake a risk assessment of every situation they attend.

“It is disappointing that the number of assaults on our staff in 2008-09 has increased from the previous year, but this may reflect better awareness among staff of the importance of reporting incidents. We sincerely hope that the numbers of assaults will drop in the future.

“The vast majority of people are supportive of the ambulance service, but unfortunately there are still those few people who obstruct our staff as they try to go about their work helping people around the region.”

The trust is working with the NHS Counter Fraud Security Management Service to monitor instances of violence and follow them up with a view to preventing similar situations from happening in the future.

At the N&N, one of the 76 assaults resulted in a criminal prosecution. The other 75 incidents were down to patients who were aggressive or confused as a result of their medical condition.

A spokesman said: “The assault reported to the police took place in the city as a member of staff walked to their car. The assailant was caught, prosecuted and given a 30-month sentence in a young offenders' institute. We do take the safety of our staff very seriously and we will not hesitate to involve the police where appropriate.”

At the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, 72 assaults mark an increase from 53 the previous year.

Noel Scanlon, deputy chief executive and chief nurse at the hospital, said: “Our staff work tirelessly serving the community and it is unacceptable that they should face violence and aggression as part of their job.”

Nationally, a total of 54,758 physical assaults were reported during 2008-9 on NHS staff working in all care sectors.

This represents a decrease of 1,235 reported assaults compared with the figure for 2007 to 2008. There were a total of 941 criminal sanctions applied following cases of physical assault.

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