Dean Lockhart has called on more to be done to protect NHS staff from physical and verbal abuse.
The call comes as data obtained by the Scottish Conservatives under Freedom of Information shows that recorded instances of physical and verbal abuse towards staff members in NHS Forth Valley has rocketed to the highest in at least ten years.
In 2018/19, the latest year for which figures are available, there were 909 instances of physical abuse towards NHS staff recorded by NHS Forth Valley and 733 instances of verbal abuse.
That’s the highest rate recorded by the health board since at least 2009/10.
Across Scotland, a parliamentary question also revealed that across Scotland in 2017/18 only 190 people were convicted under the Emergency Workers Act – the legislation specifically designed to protect staff like nurses, doctors and paramedics.
Dean Lockhart MSP said NHS workers would continue to be at risk unless more work was done to punish those responsible for attacking them.
Dean Lockhart MSP said:
‘’Our hard-working NHS staff are exemplary and any verbal or physical assault is completely unacceptable and should be treated with the utmost seriousness.
‘’These are caring professionals who put themselves on the line to protect us- the very least they should expect is to go about their jobs without the threat of violence and verbal abuse.
‘’I am therefore very concerned about the sharp increase in these recorded instances across NHS Forth Valley and I shall be in contact with the health board to see what more can be done to protect staff.
‘’I am also alarmed to see figures that only 190 people nationally were convicted under the Emergency Workers Act in 2017/18.
‘’Progress on tackling violence against NHS staff will never be made unless we start getting tough on those responsible for it.’’