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Date: 16 December 2005

Rising tide of health attacks needs broader response

UNISON - Scotland's public service union - today said that the recently revealed assault statistics from Scottish Health Boards show that the emergency workers legislation should be extended to cover all health workers, and that Health Boards need to act more decisively in tackling incidents.

Tom Waterson, UNISON's Scottish Health Group Chair said "These figures bear out UNISON's contention that we need to extend the welcome legislative protection that emergency workers now have, so that it covers all health workers, and indeed other public service workers, wherever they are working.

UNISON points out that the increased powers open to courts to tackle violence against emergency workers are not available for staff working in wards and in the community, but the figures show that there are huge numbers of assaults in primary care (3,000 in Greater Glasgow cf 800 in Acute for example). The union also wants Health Boards to deal with cases seriously.

Tom Waterson said "We have argued for some time that employers need to take abuse to staff seriously. Incidents should be recorded and dealt with timeously so staff feel it they are worth reporting, and cases should be prosecuted by the employer. As is borne out by these figures different boards record things in a different way. We think that consistently recorded figures across Scotland would give a more accurate picture of the problem, and swift, decisive action would help challenge that incidents."

ENDS

For Further Information Please Contact: Tom Waterson (Scottish Secretary) 0775 362 7575 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0771 558 3729(m)

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