HOSPITAL workers in the city are among those being physically and verbally abused each day while carrying out their work.
During the last two years there have been thousands of assaults on hospital workers across the North East with staff recording being attacked with a number of weapons such as scissors, drip frames and even zimmer frames.
Sunderland City Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust confirmed that during the past two years 206 physical assaults on staff had been recorded and a further 428 verbal attacks.
A spokesman for the trust said drunkeness was to blame for a lot of the attacks.
He said: “We go to great lengths to ensure the safety of staff and patients and pride ourselves on providing a secure and calm hospital environment.
“Unfortunately, some visitors – patients, relatives or just members of the public – can lose control, usually relating to the effects of alcohol, and staff are provided with a range of security back-up, including CCTV, personal alarms and additional support in areas such as A&E.
“The trust works closely with the police and justice system and will support staff wholeheartedly in the rare event they are attacked.
“Violent behaviour will not be tolerated.”
In the North East there have been a total of 1,431 physical attacks recorded by NHS trusts and a further 1,733 verbal assaults on staff. Durham and Darlington NHS Trust had 313 physical attacks and 432 verbal and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust recorded 154 physical and 99 verbal assaults.
The area’s branch of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which is based in Sunderland, has called these figures unacceptable and said they could even be higher with many incidents not reported.
Estephanie Dunn, RCN Northern regional operations manager, said: “This is influenced by things like the service they work in, and where those services are delivered – for example accident and emergency, and lone workers who care in the community. But assault is never justifiable.
“We know that there is a significant level of under-reporting, so the figures could be much higher than the results demonstrate.
“It is unacceptable that nurses, or indeed any member of the health care team, should be subject to any abuse.
“Apart from the physical harm is causes, there are often long-standing emotional consequences that undermine staff in so many ways.”