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Last Updated: Friday, 18 November 2005, 17:50 GMT
First prosecution by NHS security
Stuart Suckling
Stuart Suckling attacked the staff in June last year
The authority set up to protect NHS staff and patients has successfully prosecuted a man who hit two members of staff at a Birmingham hospital.

Stuart Suckling, 38, must now have 12 months of psychiatric supervision after admitting punching the nurse and security guard.

It was the first successful prosecution brought by the new NHS Security Management Service.

The body took action when prosecutors declined to charge Suckling.

Suckling, a postman, of Streetly, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands had pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and one of affray and was also ordered to pay 1,600 in compensation.

He claimed to be unwell following his return from holiday in Malta.

He punched A&E nurse Katie Detheridge - who was trying to treat him - twice in the face and head.

'Abused and assaulted'

When a security guard tried to restrain Suckling, he was also punched in the face. The guard suffered a split lip and bleeding gums.

Ms Detheridge, 30, suffered severe bruising and cuts to her lip and cheek, as well as swelling and bruising to the back of her head.

Speaking after the case, Ms Detheridge said: "As a direct result of this incident I suffered both physically and emotionally.

"My experience has made me feel more vulnerable within the work place as well as cautious and apprehensive of potentially violent situations.

"On a positive note, by publicising that criminal charges will be brought in the event of an attack, we will hopefully deter individuals and prevent further NHS staff from being abused and assaulted in this manner."

'Not good enough'

Sheelagh Brewer, senior employment relations adviser at the Royal College of Nursing, said the government must urgently address the issue of attacks on medical staff.

She said: "This move sends out a message to people who would attack nurses that this issue is being taken seriously, and that they will not get away with it.

"The legal protection unit should be applauded for taking this step.

"This is not the first time that the police have declined to take on a prosecution against someone who has attacked a nurse. It is very disappointing and is simply not good enough."

Police make decisions over arrests and charging, and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decide which cases to take to court, although the two work together and advise each other through the process.

West Midlands Police said in a statement: "We have a strong working relationship with local primary care trusts to discuss matters of this nature prior to any decision in relation to criminal proceedings.

"We are looking at a joint working protocol to deal with persons in custody who may have mental health problems.

"The introduction of CPS lawyers into police stations allows us to have around the clock consultation with CPS on a range of matters prior to any decision in relation to criminal proceedings."

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