416 attacks on hospital staff

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THE number of attacks on Wigan paramedics and hospital staff is increasing, shock new figures reveal.

Information released under the Freedom of Information Act shows the number of assaults on NHS employees has risen over the last two years, with a total of 372 in the financial year 2008/09 and 416 in 2009/10.

The most recent figures include 356 attacks on staff from the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust, which supports patients with mental health problems; 58 incidents involving members of Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Foundation Trust; and two offences against employees from Ashton, Leigh and Wigan Primary Care Trust.

Out of these 372 cases police took action in just seven.

For the financial year 2008/09, 305 staff from 5 Boroughs were attacked. There were 64 attacks on hospital staff and three on PCT workers, with only five offenders facing criminal investigation. A spokesman for WWL NHS Foundation Trust said: “Violence, aggression or abuse towards NHS staff will not be tolerated and every effort is and will continue to be made to bring those individuals to justice, where appropriate.”

The number of ambulance staff physically abused rose from one in of 2008/09, to four two years later.

One employee suffered a bruised ribs, and one shoulder pain. Another was spat upon and suffered a blow to the head and chest and another paramedic was kneed in the groin.

Two of these assaults were reported to the police, while the other two were carried out by a patient who had a medical condition, and so a prosecution was not pursued.

One offender was sentenced to four months and another was given eight weeks in prison.

There were two attacks between 2009/10.

A North West Ambulance Service spokesman said; “Unfortunately it is a sad fact that members of our frontline staff are often at risk of physical violence from members of the public and this continues to be an area of concern.”

Meanwhile, the frequency of physical abuse to police officers has gone down, from 80 in 2008, to 45 this year.

Chief Supt Shaun Donnellan of Wigan Police said: “We treat assaults on police officers and members of the public in exactly the same way – they are investigated rigorously, and offenders are brought to justice. All our officers are equipped with personal protective equipment and can call upon officers armed with tasers if the situation requires it.

Firefighters in the borough experienced 18 attacks last year, with 10 incidents reported to police and eight this year – with one incident involving the police.

Steve Sheridan, Wigan borough commander for Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Firefighters attend incidents because somebody has asked for help – it is incomprehensible that anyone would attack them and put lives at risk by causing injury to crews or damage to their fire engines. ”