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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 October, 2003, 13:00 GMT 14:00 UK
Call to protect NHS staff
Staff - generic
The union says staff need protection
Scotland's largest health care union has accused the Scottish Executive of complacency in its efforts to protect NHS staff.

Unison argued that not enough was being done to ensure workers' safety at a time when assaults were on the increase.

It said that doctors and nurses had been stabbed, head butted, sexually assaulted and threatened with guns this year - and that such incidents were becoming more commonplace.

However, the union said it was impossible to calculate the exact number of attacks because there was no Scotland-wide definition of physical and verbal abuse.

At a conference in Edinburgh on Thursday, Scottish health organiser Jim Devine urged Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm to take action.

Unison wants the Scottish Executive to standardise the definition, recording and follow-up of violent and potentially violent incidents.

Nurses have been stabbed, head butted, sexually assaulted and threatened with guns
Jim Devine
It is calling for the creation of a staff charter which would remind the public that it is not part of an NHS worker's job to be physically or verbally abused at work.

Unison wants to see a system of yellow and red cards for people who consistently abuse staff, which could lead to persistent offenders being banned from NHS premises.

And it stressed that zero tolerance was the "only option".

Mr Devine said: "This year, while working in the Scottish NHS, nurses have been stabbed, head butted, sexually assaulted and threatened with guns.

"Against this background of increased violence against health service workers, one has to ask what the Scottish Executive's response has been.

Clear responsibilities

"Sadly, the only conclusion you can reach is that it is one of complacency."

Mr Chisholm said patients had responsibilities as well as rights.

"One of their clearest responsibilities is to treat NHS staff with respect," he said.

"I repeat today and will go on repeating, as I have for the last two years, that violence against NHS staff will not be tolerated."

BBC Scotland's David Henderson
"Health unions say staff face daily violence and abuse"

Doctors 'need more protection'
15 Oct 03  |  Scotland
Attacks against NHS staff soar
08 Jul 03  |  Health
Sharp increase in NHS violence
14 Jun 02  |  Health
Violent patients 'can be banned'
27 Dec 01  |  Health

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