Emergency service staff assaults up
Prosecutions for assaults against emergency service staff in the Scottish NHS have increased five-fold since 2005, according to the latest figures.
Court proceedings rose from 57 to 309 under the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act, which was extended in 2007.
Scottish Conservatives, who obtained the figures, said the problem is “spiralling out of control” and urged the use of practical solutions such as personal alarms.
The Scottish government said the Act “sends out a clear message”.
Since 2005-6, the figures increased from 57 to 212, then annually again to 287 and 309.
Tory public health spokeswoman Nanette Milne said: “Evidence suggests the problem is spiralling out of control.
“When the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act was introduced we warned that it was a totally unnecessary piece of legislation, as existing law already had the necessary flexibility to ensure that emergency workers are treated with utmost respect.”
She said “practical” measures should be introduced, adding: “One such measure would be to ensure health workers, who often have to face hostile situations in the homes they visit in our local communities, are fitted with personal alarms.
“We will be investigating the possibility of this option to see if it is affordable.
“More generally, the recording of information should be assessed and improved to ensure it properly identifies the problem areas and high-risk situations.”
A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “Every public sector worker deserves protection from threatening or abusive behaviour.
“Since the introduction of the Emergency Workers Act in 2005 it is clear that NHS workers are being given a greater legal protection. It sends out a clear message that their actions will not be tolerated.
“Only a mindless minority think it is acceptable to abuse and attack health workers, ignoring the vital service they provide and the terrible impact this kind of behaviour can have on staff morale.”
Labour MSP Hugh Henry launched a Bill in the Scottish Parliament to give greater protection to public service workers.
If the Workers (Aggravated Offences) (Scotland) Bill is passed, offenders could be jailed for up to one year and fined up to £10,000.