Five-fold increase in attacks on NHS workers


By Christine Lavelle

A HUGE rise in attacks on emergency service workers could mean every member of staff is fitted with a personal panic alarm.

Prosecutions for assaults on NHS workers have risen by 542 per cent, and court proceedings increased from 57 to 309 under the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act, which was extended in 2007.

The statistics were revealed by the Scottish Conservatives who said the “appalling” figures give clear evidence that the problem was out of control.

Nanette Milne, the party’s public health spokeswoman, said it was time to look for “new ways of protecting” Scotland’s emergency workers and called for the use of panic alarms.

She said: “Evidence suggests the problem is spiraling out of control.

“When the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Acts was introduced it was a totally unnecessary piece of legislation, as existing law already had the necessary flexibility to ensure that emergency workers are treated with utmost respect.

“One such measure would be to ensure health workers, who often face hostile situations in the homes they visit or in our local communities, are fitted with personal alarms.

“We will be investigating the possibility of this option to see if it is affordable.

“More generally, the recording of information should be assessed and improved to ensure it properly identifies the problem areas and high-risk situations.”

In 2006, James Kilgore was sentenced to nine months in prison following two attacks on NHS casualty workers at Perth Royal Infirmary.

The Scottish Government said attacks on staff “would not be tolerated”.

A spokeswoman said: “Every public sector worker deserves protection from threatening or abusive behaviour.

“Only a mindless minority think it is acceptable to abuse and attack health workers, ignoring the vital service they provide and the terrible impact this kind of behaviour can have on staff morale.

The Workers (Aggravated Offences) Scotland Bill has been launched in the Scottish Parliament by Labour MSP Hugh Henry to give greater protection to public service workers.

If it is passed through parliament, offenders could be jailed for up to a year and fined up to £10,000.