MEDICS in Sunderland are still being subjected to vicious attacks by those they are trying to help.
New figures reveal there were 85 assaults against Sunderland Royal Hospital staff in 2010/11.
This compares to 107 in 2009/10.
Employees working for Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust (PCT), which oversees community health services, experienced four attacks.
Glenn Turp, the Royal College of Nursing’s regional director for the North East, said: “We are extremely concerned that many of our members across the region are regularly subjected to physical assaults by patients who they are trying to help.
“One assault is one is too many. Let’s face it, no one goes to work expecting to be assaulted.
“Alcohol and drug abuse clearly fuels some of the incidents, but this is certainly no excuse for them.
“Potential legal sanctions have been increased by the Government and we fully support trusts which seek to work with police and others to pursue all assaults through the courts.
“Nurses are under incredible strain at the moment and the last thing they need to worry about is whether they are going to get assaulted at work.
“Physical violence against employees costs the NHS £60.5million a year, so we also want to see proper security in place to prevent these incidents happening in the first place.”
Assaults on ambulance staff in the North East have increased slightly over the last 12 months.
Employees suffered 59 physical assaults during 2010/11 – an increase of three on last year.
Overall assaults on ambulance staff however were lower than the national average for English ambulance services.
There were also 115 reports of verbal assaults in the North East during 2010/11 – down six on the previous year.
Paul Liversidge, director of operations for the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), said: “It is a sad fact our staff are continuously subjected to verbal and physical assaults in one form or another and we will not tolerate this.
“We encourage our staff to report any violent or abusive incident through our agreed reporting process and we will support and encourage staff to pursue the issue through the correct channels.
“During their induction course all A&E staff receive training which helps them deal with abusive and violent patients.
“We also have measures in place in our contact centre which help the operators identify potential-volatile situations, so they are able to advise the crews on the most appropriate response.
“We advise and support crews if they attend a call in which they feel vulnerable, to leave the scene and wait in their vehicle until the police arrive.
“Our crews should not expect to be threatened or injured when they’re called to help injured patients.”
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust saw 2,347 assaults against staff.