THERE have been more than 12,500 cases of both physical assault and verbal abuse inflicted on NHS Scotland staff in the past year, new statistics show.

More than 7,000 workers for the NHS have suffered from physical attacks whilst a total of 5,496 reports of verbal abuse and threats were logged.

The new statistics have been taken from new Freedom of Information data and show that in the 12 months to the end of October 2021, a total of 7,271 incidents of physical assaults on NHS staff were carried out across all of mainland Scotland’s health boards.

Among the worst affected is NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which recorded 2,479 assualts and threats in the first six months of 2021, and also noted close to 100 attacks in the first eight days of August.

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Although acknowledging that the behaviour comes from a minority of patients, a spokesperson for the NHS GGC said that staff deserve to come to work knowing they will be respected.

A spokesperson said: “Staff continue to work tirelessly to ensure patients and service users receive the best care, against the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, but are being subjected to both verbal and physical abuse, while simply trying to do their jobs.

"Our staff come to work to help people, support patients and their families, deliver vital care and save lives.

"All we ask is that visitors, patients and service users treat our staff with respect to allow us to continue to care for those needing medical attention in a safe and comfortable workspace.

"We would like to thank the thousands of people who use our services and treat our exceptional staff with the respect they deserve. We urge the minority who behave in an aggressive or violent way to do the same.”

Some 1,071 incidents of physical assault were recorded towards NHS Lothian staff, alongside 266 reports of verbal abuse.

The Scottish Ambulance Service also recorded 146 physical assaults and 113 incidents of verbal abuse.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “Our staff should not have to fear for their safety when treating patients and keeping them safe is of paramount importance to us”.

Several health boards also recorded other types of abuse separately, including bullying, harassment, hate crime and sexual assault.

While the above figures refer only to abuse directed at staff from patients, other incidents were recorded from other staff and family members of patients, the EEN reported.

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Janis Butler, Director of HR at NHS Lothian, said: “We have 32,761 staff working in sites across West Lothian, East Lothian, Edinburgh and Midlothian and we expect all of our employees to be able to deliver health care in an environment free from violence, intimidation and aggression.

"We have a zero-tolerance approach to abusive behaviour towards any of our colleagues or volunteers and we encourage employees to report any event of this type to allow us to investigate further and have a robust system for the reporting and monitoring of incidents.

"Staff also have access to specific training to equip them with the skills and competence to deal with and de-escalate difficult situations and avoid harm."

However, other health boards highlighted that many of their incidents of abuse were a result of patients with ‘complex’ conditions.

A spokesperson for NHS Grampian said that incidences of violence and aggression against staff are “generally due to an underlying clinical condition meaning that the person may have little control over their behaviour”.