UNISONScotland www
This is our archive website that is no longer being updated.
For the new website please go to
Click here
Home News About us Join Us Contacts Help Resources Learning Links UNISON UK




Sponsorship Comms Index Communications Forum Campaigns News Scotland inUNISON Press Releases


Communications Index | Press releases | Scotland inUNISON | Campaigns


Date: 28 Oct 2004

Health Service Workers are not Society's punch bags - says UNISON Scotland

"Health service workers are not Society's punchbag" says Scotland's largest health care union, UNISON after figures released today show that a shocking 67.8 % of all occupational injuries in the primary health care sector are due to violence and aggression.

UNISON Scotland is horrified at the statistics issued by ISD Scotland and are now calling on the Scottish Executive to turning their plans for a safer working environment within the health sector into concrete action as a matter of urgency.

"The figures issued today show an increase in physical abuse against health service workers and in particular nurses and midwives," said Jim Devine, UNISON Scotland's organiser on Health.

"It is not part of the health service worker's job to be physically and verbally abused at work.

"Last year a nurse in Perth nearly died as a result of a physical assault by a hospital visitor. This attack has so traumatised the nurse that she is still off work nearly one year later."

According to these latest statistics there are approximately 135 occupational injuries per 1000 member of staff each year and out of all the injuries recorded in 2003/04, 67.9% are due to violence and aggression. In addition another 11.1 per cent are victims of needlestick (or other sharp objects) injuries which equates to approximately 15 per 1000 members of staff.

In the acute health sector 54.4 % of all occupational injuries are due to violence and aggression with nursing and midwives (75.3 %) being the main targets.

"We don't want to wait until an NHS workers dies before concrete action is taken," said Jim Devine.

"These figures are horrific and it is time for the Executive to put their plans into action and to clamp down on the present culture which appears to prevail in hospitals throughout the country where health workers are seen as figures of abuse by members of the public."



[Notes to the Editor

  1. Last year UNISON launched a ‘Free From Care' campaign with a six point action plan which is available on our website.
  2. Also available on the website is UNISON Scotland's response to the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Bill. In this document UNISON Scotland asks the Justice 1 Committee to extend the list of workers defined as emergency workers and strengthen the definition of emergency circumstances.
  3. Scottish Executive published a booklet ‘Protecting Public Service Workers: When the Customer Isn't Right' in September 2004 and this outlines the Executives plans for addressing the problem of attacks on public sector workers.

UNISON Scotland's website address is www.unison-scotland.org.uk


For Further Information Please Contact: Jim Devine on 07876 441239

Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)

Or Ahrlene Ferguson on 0141 342 2819 or 07703 165839




See also