Assaults not punished

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LATEST figures show only two per cent of people who assault NHS workers in the North are prosecuted.

Although, the statistics revealed by NHS Protest show a fall in the number of violent assaults on staff, they also show health boards are not taking legal action against offenders.

Out of more than 5,000 physical assaults between 2011/12 on NHS staff in the region, only 118 criminal actions were taken.

Trevor Johnston, Unison’s lead officer for health in the North, said: “We know of many incidents where members of staff have been physically or verbally abused and it is totally unacceptable.

“There does need to be a level of deterrent to prevent assaults on NHS staff.

“There is a zero tolerance against attacks on NHS staff and we would encourage any member of staff who has been physically or verbally assaulted to report the incident.”

NHS Protect revealed there were 5,470 physical assaults on staff, down from 6,104 in 2010/11.

A spokesman for NHS North East, said: “Violence against NHS staff is clearly unacceptable. Whilst we would never underestimate the seriousness of assaults against NHS staff, it is also important to note that many reported assaults, particularly those linked with mental health – where challenging behaviour is often a symptom of illness – are non intentional.”