CONCERNS have been raised over the number of attacks on NHS staff across Renfrewshire.

Figures obtained by The Gazette through a Freedom of Information request show assaults on local health workers have nearly doubled over the last five years.

The most shocking rise in violence has been seen at Paisley’s Dykebar Hospital, where there has been a 242 per cent increase in the number of attacks on staff since 2013.

In total, there were 746 assaults recorded on health workers across Renfrewshire during 2017, compared to 624 in 2016 and 407 in 2013.

In other parts of the UK, similar problems have been blamed on a lack of staffing and funding cuts that have led to hostile environments where workers are more likely to be assaulted.

West of Scotland MSP Maurice Golden said all those working for the health service are entitled to greater protection.

He added: “Any attack on our hard-working NHS staff is completely unacceptable.

“Staff have a right to work in safety, without threat of violence, and a rise of this extent is extremely alarming.

“These figures should act as a huge wake-up call and show there is much more that must be done to protect our staff.

“The SNP government have a duty to ensure that our hospitals are safe places to work and they should be working closely with health boards and unions to make that happen.”

A spokesperson for the British Medical Association also expressed concern.

“As pressure on services mounts, the knock-on impact can be greater patient frustration and increased tension,” said the spokesperson.

“However, no-one should be expected to work in an environment where they are harassed or assaulted by their patients.”

In response to the figures, bosses at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said its staff are entitled to work “free of threats, assaults and intimidation.”

A spokesperson added: “Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership has a strict zero-tolerance stance towards violence and aggression against our staff.

“All our staff deserve basic courtesy and respect and to be able to work without fear of intimidation, abuse or violence.

“The number of staff reporting violence towards them has increased and we fully encourage and support staff in their pursuit of taking the perpetrators of violence against them through the justice system.”