Physical and verbal assaults on NHS Borders staff increases

Physical assaults on NHS Borders staff more than doubled in 2018/19.

By Dawn Renton
Thursday, 9th January 2020, 8:00 am

A total of 1040 staff members were physically assaulted, with 837 verbally assaulted.

The figures are a major increase from figures in 2017/18 when 461 NHS staff were the victims of physical assault, while 366 where targeted verbally.

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.

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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.

“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.”

A spokesman for NHS Borders said: “NHS Borders staff have a right to be able to perform their duties without fear of aggressive, abusive or violent acts. Whenever an incident of assault occurs, it is recorded and fully investigated.

“Staff affected by assaults are given appropriate support but quite frankly it is just unacceptable that this can happen to people trying to help and working in the NHS or anywhere.”