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Rise in attacks on nurses and other NHS staff

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The number of NHS staff subjected to physical assaults has increased, according to latest figures, despite continuing efforts curb such attacks.

Data from the NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service Division, published today, shows that 55,993 NHS staff were physically assaulted in England in 2007-2008 financial year – 284 more than the previous year.

The largest rise in the number of attacks was against staff working in NHS acute and foundation trusts in which there were 10,983 assaults during 2007-2008, up 1,298 on the previous year. The largest overall number of assaults occurred in mental health trusts.

Karen Jennings, Unison head of health, described the increase in attacks as ‘shameful’. ‘I fear that the all night drinking culture and a lack of respect is fuelling violence against dedicated NHS paramedics, nurses and health staff who need to be given the protection they deserve,’ she said.

‘Many of these assaults are preventable and the NHS needs to look at a raft of measures and new ways of working to protect staff,’ she added. ‘In some places that might mean more police and security staff working in A&E, in others staff training, more CCTV, alarms, better co-ordination between police and ambulance staff, flagging up dangerous areas or building safety features into hospitals and wards.’

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