Over 150 attacks on NHS staff are carried out every day, figures have shown.
Over a 12-month period in 2008-09, 54,758 people working in UK hospitals, ambulance services, primary care trusts and mental health services reported an assault, according to NHS Security Management Service (SMS) statistics.
Numbers have dropped from the 2007-08 total, with 1,235 fewer attacks than last year.
Mental health and learning disability workers reported more than 70% of incidents, with 38,958 attacks. Ambulance workers had the lowest number, at 1,240 across the country.
Physical assaults on 941 people led to prosecutions against the attacker.
Head of the NHS SMS, Richard Hampton, said in a press release: “NHS staff must be able to deliver high quality clinical care in a safe and secure environment. We are supporting staff in this aim through a network of professionally trained Local Security Management Specialists.
“New legislation is also being introduced to tackle low level nuisance and disturbance behaviour, preventing situations escalating into something more serious.
“All trusts have a responsibility to ensure that risks to their staff are minimised through guidance, support and training - and we help them do this.”
Royal College of Nursing chief executive Peter Carter said: “The very slight decline may be a step in the right direction but too many employers are failing to invest in measures to prevent attacks on staff in the first place. In particular, lone workers continue to be put at risk despite the government scheme to provide assistance with the funding of lone worker alarm devices and training.”