Increase in attacks on NHS Ayrshire and Arran staff

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More than a 1000 NHS Aryshire and Arran staff were physically assaulted in 2018/19.

A total of 1019 staff members were physically assaulted.

This is an increase from 2017/18 when 709 NHS staff were the victims of physical assault.

In 2018/19, 458 staff members were verbally assaulted, a drop from 482 the previous year.

The new analysis also shows that in 2017/18, the latest year for which figures are available, 190 people from across Scotland were convicted under the Emergency Workers Act – the legislation specifically designed to protect staff like nurses, doctors and paramedics.

Figures for the same year show there were 12,759 physical assaults recorded by health boards, meaning just 1.49 per cent led to a conviction.

That’s the lowest rate in at least six years, and means someone who attacks a healthcare worker is half as likely to be convicted now as they were in 2013/14. Anyone found guilty under the legislation faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to £10,000.

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said NHS workers would continue to be at risk unless more work was done to punish those responsible for attacking them.

Mr Briggs said: “It would be unrealistic to expect all reports of NHS assaults to end up in the court room.

“But the fact just 1.5 per cent of physical assaults result in a conviction is a real insult to our brave healthcare workers.

“These are caring professionals who put themselves on the line to protect us – the least they should expect is protection by the law.”

Mr Briggs continued: “Progress on tackling violence against NHS staff will never be made unless we start getting tough on those responsible for it.

“As it stands, under this soft-touch SNP government, someone who attacks an NHS worker has nearly a 100 per cent chance of getting away with it.”

Patricia Leiser, Human Resources director, said: “NHS Ayrshire & Arran believes that all acts of violence and aggression directed towards our staff are unacceptable - whatever form they take and whatever reasons are given. It is not part of the duties of any employee to accept or endure violent or abusive behaviour, including foul language.

“Our staff can experience a wide range of violent events in a variety of situations. While some of these situations may involve deliberate abuse or violence from patients or visitors, some may be linked to a patient’s health condition – for example dementia, stroke or mental ill health. Our staff are trained to deal with such situations safely and compassionately.

“If an adverse event occurs which requires the immediate need for Police assistance, we advise staff to call 999. If an adverse event has occurred and there is no longer an immediate threat to life, but there is a need to report the event to the Police, we advise staff to call Police Scotland on 101, the non-emergency number. We reiterate this advice during training.

If a member of staff wishes to take further legal action, NHS Ayrshire & Arran supports staff to do this. We also work with Police Scotland colleagues where there has been a specific or sustained threat of violent behaviour by an individual(s).”