CONCERNS have been raised after it was revealed there have been more than 1,000 attacks on staff by patients at Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital in the last five years.

West Scotland MSP Neil Bibby described the level of violence at the RAH as “alarming” and called for action to make sure workers are being protected.

A Freedom of Information request revealed there have been a total of 1,138 physical assaults on staff at the hospital over the last five years.

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Health board chiefs say they are “combating” aggression in hospitals.

However, Mr Bibby said violence against RAH staff “should not be accepted as an occupational hazard."

He added: “I call on all relevant authorities to work with the trade unions to address this serious problem.

“No-one should go to work and face physical violence.”

A trade union source described the tally of physical assaults as “quite high” and said the issue was likely to be more prevalent among elderly patients with dementia and “volatile” characters attending Accident and Emergency.

“Some of the abuse staff take is unbelievable," added the source. “People get irate because they are anxious.”

The Gazette: Neil Bibby called the statistics alarming Neil Bibby called the statistics alarming

The highest number of physical assaults on RAH staff in the last five years took place in 2017, when 286 incidents were reported.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) said health chiefs have been staging "a concerted and ongoing campaign" to combat aggression.

She added: “Our staff are entitled to work free of threats, assaults and intimidation.

“Despite introducing a range of measures to protect our staff, we are unfortunately still seeing incidents of both physical and verbal abuse.

“In some instances, staff have required support from Police Scotland because of the risk to their own and patients’ wellbeing – and that is unacceptable.

“NHSGGC is committed to reducing and deterring such incidents, as well as ensuring staff are trained to deal with situations when they do arise.

“We must do all we can to protect the delivery of healthcare 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and enable staff to fulfil their duties without fear of assault or abuse.

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“Last year we saw a dramatic reduction in the number of attacks against staff, dropping from 286 in 2017 to 188 in 2018.

“We take any act of physical or verbal abuse very seriously.

“Where staff are assaulted or abused while at work, whether in our hospitals or in the community, we fully support them and encourage them to pursue their abusers through the criminal justice system.”