NHS staff and GPs in England faced nearly 60,000 reported physical assaults this year, the latest official figures show.
Assaults on staff were up more than 1,000 on the previous year’s figures – a total of 57,830 compared to 56,718 in 2009-10.
The figures – from NHS Protect, a division of the NHS Business Services Authority set up to identify and tackle crime across the NHS – show sanctions taken against those who assaulted NHS staff increased by almost a quarter on last year.
A total of 1,397 criminal sanctions were applied following cases of assault in 2010-11, compared to 1,128 applied in 2009-10 – an increase of almost 24%.
There were 18,060 reported physical assaults against NHS staff in England in 2010-11 that did not involve a medical factor such as dementia that could explain the person´s behaviour. This represents a 19% decrease on the figure for 2009-10, which was 22,381.
Richard Hampton, local support and development services manager at NHS Protect, said: ‘Staff committed to providing our national health service should never be expected to suffer violence at work and it will not be tolerated. NHS Protect urges employers to take firm action in all cases of assault against NHS staff.’
Mr Brampton said the relatively small increase in total assaults reflected both an improved culture of reporting assaults and better mechanisms that are now in place to record them.
‘Rightly, staff demand that their reports of violence are followed up. Tough action is being taken to ensure that all NHS organisations work better with local police and other agencies to clamp down on anyone who is aggressive and abusive to NHS staff.’