More than 18,000 assaults were recorded towards NHS Scotland staff in just a year, new figures have revealed.
A total of 18,389 attacks towards staff were logged across all of Scotland’s 22 health boards, however trade union Unison have warned that the real number could be much higher.
The figures, gathered in Freedom of Information data from the union, also reveal 17,557 reported incidents across health boards with a further 832 logged in special health boards which includes the Scottish Ambulance Service, The Golden Jubilee in Clydebank, The State Hospital in Carstairs and NHS 24.
The report relates to attacks recorded between April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.
Of the 22 health boards contacted by the union, 18 reported figures with four reporting no incidents or failing to report.
The area with the greatest number of incidents was the largest health board of Greater Glasgow and Clyde which logged 4,949 assaults.
NHS Tayside reported 2,636 and NHS Fife reported 1,871.
Matt Mclaughlin, Unison Scotland’s head of health, said: “Working in the NHS is stressful enough without having to worry about your personal safety.
“NHS boards must take a zero-tolerance approach and improve the reporting system which NHS staff have little faith.”
Of the 306 attacks on the Scottish Ambulance Service, three were aggravated assault with intent to kill with a firearm or knife, 112 were assaults of kicks, punches or spits and six were sexual assault.
The other assaults were recorded as clinical assault, indirect assault, threats, provocation, extortion and hate crime involving race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.
The union published the report Violent assaults: NHS staff in Scotland on Thursday.
Among recommendations, the union also called for staff training in violence detection and management, and for health boards to set realistic targets to improve reporting.
The attacks have been condemned by Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s health secretary.
The MSP said: “Assaults on patients or staff are completely unacceptable, and everyone has the right to access healthcare, or their place of work, without fear of verbal or physical abuse.
“The courts have extensive powers to deal robustly with assaults.
“All instances of violent behaviour, including sexual assaults should be reported and escalated to the police as quickly as possible.”
Unison has now called on Yousaf and the Scottish Government along with each Scottish health board to implement a number of new measures to protect staff.
They include increasing on site security, reporting all incidents to the police, as well as boosting staffing numbers to make sure workers have the time to report incidents.
Mr Mclaughlin said: “While NHS boards must invest in dynamic risk assessments, staff training and reporting systems, it is vital that the Scottish government tackles the staffing crisis in the NHS.
“They must recruit and invest in staff so they can reduce waiting times and ensure there are adequate staff to deal with difficult situations with patients.”