Attacks on health workers increase
Nearly 1,000 health workers across Leicestershire were attacked by patients in a year, latest figures reveal.
Figures published by NHS Protect show the number of assaults rose from 871 during April, 2010, to the end of March, 2011, to a total of 996 during the same period in 2011 to 2012.
Those figures include 187 staff working at Leicester's three hospitals who were victims of an assault.
Nigel Bond, a security management specialist at Leicester's hospitals, said: "The number has gone up by 50, which is very disappointing.
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"However, when you look at the number for 2004/05 which we use as the reference year, there were 350 assaults, so the numbers have come down a lot.
"Many assaults are by people who are confused and who are on medication who lash out, although this is still unpleasant and upsetting for staff.
"There were about 16 occasions when the assaults were down to criminal intent and these typically happened in the emergency department at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
"I am not aware that any of the incidents led to broken bones, but it is the unpleasantness for staff. Overall I think we are going in the right direction."
NHS Protect, which collates the figures for the health service, also revealed the number of attacks on staff working for the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, which runs mental and community health services, has risen from 566 in 2010/11 to 726 in the past year.
However, some of the increase could be due to the trust taking on the running of community health services during 2011/12.
John Short, chief executive of the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: "A high proportion of these cases occur in inpatient settings involving people with severe learning disabilities or complex mental health problems, where they were not necessarily aware of the reality of their actions or their implications.
"We have dedicated security management specialists who provide support to staff and an active training programme to help staff to deal with violence and aggression."
At East Midland Ambulance Service (Emas) there were 83 assaults – up on the previous year's figure of 70.
Nick Arnold, Emas' security management specialist said: "We do not tolerate violence or aggression against any member of our staff and we will take action against those who think nothing of assaulting our staff when they are trying to help someone in need.
"A large proportion of attacks are carried out by those under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs, but people must make a conscious effort to remain in control of their actions at all times.''