MORE than 600 nurses and midwives at Scotland's largest health board suffered attacks at work in less than three months.

Since the start of the year until March 10, 636 nursing and midwifery staff were subjected to verbal or physical assaults by patients across Greater Glasgow.

Figures released by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) show that from July 24 last year until the end of 2013, a total of 1299 nursing and midwifery staff were assaulted. The number of assaults on other staff groups, both this year and last, are significantly lower.

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So far this year, six medical staff have been assaulted, while 14 allied health professionals - such as paramedics - experienced harassment or physical violence.

In the last five months of last year, five medics were assaulted. In that same time frame, the number for health professionals was 23.

NHSGGC began recording specific information on assaults on staff from July 24 last year. Some of the attacks described by nursing staff include being pinched, kicked, bitten and spat on, as well as harassment.

One nurse said many assaults went unreported.

She said: "I've been nipped and spat on by patients, but sometimes they throw things at you.

"Confused patients can sometimes call you names and shout things at you. A lot doesn't get reported because it can be seen as too much hassle."

A spokeswoman from the board said: "Since the introduction of our violence and aggression policy in 2005, the number of staff now reporting violence towards them has increased and we fully encourage staff in their pursuit of taking the perpetrators of violence against them through the justice system."

Cabinet secretary for health and wellbeing Alex Neil said: "Our staff are the heart of our NHS and they deserve to be treated, at all times, with the utmost respect and courtesy.

"We will not tolerate assaults or abuse of any of our staff, whether physical or verbal."