Assaults on hospital staff in Leeds have risen by almost a quarter in a year, latest figures show.
There were 195 physical attacks on workers in 12 months, representing a 22 per cent increase – a trend a nursing union called “very concerning”.
Glenn Turp, regional director for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Yorkshire, said: “NHS staff work hard to care for their patients and should not have to be subjected to assault, whether physical or verbal.
“RCN members across the NHS face increasing levels of risk because of additional pressures on services and cuts to staffing levels, leading to frustration for patients and their relatives. But this is not an excuse for them to take out their frustrations on hard working frontline staff, who have no control over the pressure that services are under.
“Staff are doing everything they can to help patients despite the stresses and strains faced by the NHS.”
The figures for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust show that 148 of the assaults were due to medical factors such as a patient having dementia or being impaired due to medication. But in 47 cases, the attacker was not affected by medical issues.
Mr Turp said victims could need time off to recover, putting more pressure on services.
“This is a very serious issue and employers must adopt a zero tolerance approach and report cases of assault to the police. Everything must be done to provide a safe working environment,” he added.
Any members of hospital staff could be a victim and assaults may not have been carried out by a patient.
A report to directors at the hospitals trust said that the number of assaults did not reflect potentially violent incidents responded to by their security team – as approximately 60 per cent of those were defused.
Darryn Kerr, director of estates and facilities at the trust, told a meeting: “Any single act of violence against staff within the NHS is undesirable.”
But he added that numbers were low compared to national and regional figures, and for the size of the organisation.
Mr Kerr said the increase could be down to improved systems of reporting assaults and said the number of staff undergoing training in conflict resolution had also increased.