More hospital staff come under attack
MORE patients and visitors are attacking staff at Staffordshire's biggest hospital every year.
Latest figures show 165 workers were assaulted at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in 2010/11.
That is up from 105 in 2008/09 and 148 in 2009/10.
Incidents have included staff being spat at, bitten, kicked and punched by patients and visitors.
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Union leaders today blamed the rise on gritty fly-on-the-wall television documentaries, which can glorify clashes with the emergency services.
Unison branch spokesman Geoff Wilson said: "The vast majority of sensible people watch these documentaries and are horrified if they see nurses, police, firefighters and ambulance workers being attacked simply for doing their jobs.
"But there are a worrying few out there who watch someone being hit in other parts of the country and then think it's all right for them to get one back at what they see as authority when they need emergency services in North Staffordshire.
"We are more than happy with how our local health trusts are doing their best to protect staff, but what you do about people copying what they see on television is another matter."
The attacks continue to rise despite a clampdown by hospital officials, who operate a zero-tolerance policy to violence in posters on wards and departments.
They also insist thugs are always prosecuted if there is enough evidence to bring them to court.
The number of security staff employed by the hospital trust fell by one to 10 this year.
Managers have put the rise in attacks down to staff being more willing to report incidents.
Around 600,000 people are treated at the University Hospital every year.
Yin Naing, the University Hospital's security management specialist, said: "Violence, or the threat of violence, against staff is totally unacceptable. Our staff are committed to providing health services and should not have to suffer violence at work.
"People who assault NHS staff can and will suffer the legal consequences and we will do all we can to ensure that those who assault staff are prosecuted.
"We will continue to work hard to prevent assaults from occurring and to pursue sanctions following assaults when they do occur."
Mid-Cheshire NHS Trust, which runs Crewe's Leighton Hospital, has recorded more than 250 assaults in the past three years.
Incidents included dog and human bites, slaps and scratches, pulled groins, cuts and bruises, and a broken finger and thumb.
Victims included sisters, nurses, doctors, technicians, healthcare support workers, managers, physiotherapists and security staff.
Twenty security guards are currently employed at Leighton.
A Mid-Cheshire NHS Trust spokesman said: "We have brought in new initiatives for security staff.
"They include new shift patterns which have resulted in a reduction in the reported levels of physical violence."