More than 300 hospital staff have been attacked by patients in the past five years according to shocking new figures released by the NHS.
Bosses at St Helens and Knowsley Hospitals NHS Trust have said they have a zero tolerance policy to any violence towards staff and union chiefs have urged all workers to report any incidents in which they feel threatened.
Figures released by the NHS reveal that there were 330 assaults on staff at the trust between 2009-2014.
Last year there were 73 incidents reported - down from 87 the previous year (2012/13).
A trust spokeswoman said: “The trust operates a zero tolerance approach to violence and abuse of staff and has a close working partnership with Merseyside Police.
“The trust has a ‘red card system’ along with a number of other security initiatives and actively encourages all our staff to report any incidents immediately.”
Nationally the number of criminal sanctions following reported assaults has risen by 191, from 1,458 to 1,649 – a rise of 13.1 per cent.
Overall, there was a rise of 8.7 per cent in total reported assaults from 63,199 in 2012/13 to 68,683 in 2013/14.
Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison, said: “There can be no excuse for abusing or assaulting staff and all incidents should be taken very seriously.
“Sadly, violence on NHS premises often goes unreported and many workers are left to suffer in silence.
“Both employers and the police need to take these incidents seriously particularly in mental health premises where we expect full support and cooperation to guarantee the safety and security of staff.”
Nationally, it is feared increasing waiting times and fewer frontline staff in emergency departments at hospitals are causing more assaults.
Richard Hampton, Head of External Engagement and Services at NHS Protect, said: “No NHS staff should be physically assaulted and we encourage staff who are victims of violence to press charges against assailants.
“Those who work in the NHS have the right to provide care in a safe environment. Employers must do all they can to support staff in preventing incidents and pursuing offenders”.