A Lanarkshire hospital has tightened security and restricted patient visits following a rise in abuse directed at NHS staff.

On one occasion, nurses at the maternity unit at University Hospital Wishaw were chased out of a ward by family members who were unwilling to leave when visiting ended.

NHS Lanarkshire said the level of verbal abuse being directed at staff had led to workers taking sick leave and "crying on shift".

Senior midwives have now taken the decision to reduce the second visitor to two hours per day and by appointment only.

The health board said security had also been tightened at the hospital.

Cheryl Clark, NHS Lanarkshire's chief midwife said: “We have worked tirelessly to get visiting back to what our parents and families want.

“However, over the last few months, the level of verbal abuse being directed at our staff in the maternity unit at University Hospital Wishaw has continued to rise. 

“Our staff are being subject to vile language and abuse and in one instance staff were chased out a ward by family members not willing to leave.

“This not only affecting the staff but also having a negative impact on the care we strive to deliver at all times. 

"To stop this abuse, one of the measures we are taking is that the second visitor will now only be able to attend by prior appointment and for a maximum of two hours.

“This was an extremely difficult decision but the result of the abuse means our staff are going off sick, crying on shift and it is affecting their mental health. 

"It is sad to say that we have also increased security measures to ensure the safety of our staff and other families.

She added: “I make a personal plea to all visitors and patients to our maternity unity - please be kind, please be compassionate and please be respectful to our staff and other families.”