The health workers of the NHS have suffered over 22,000 physical assaults and verbal abuses in 2004 in the Lothian Health Board area, resulting in the country's nurses demanding more protection. Nurses also face the chances of sexual assaults from drunk patients. Threats with guns and knifes are not uncommon either.
The country's nursing unions have called for legislation similar to that which protects emergency workers, to protect nurses also. The matter will also be raised with the Health Minister Andy Kerr. The health boards have also been called upon to take such abusive behavior seriously and lodge a complaint with the police.
The healthcare staff will also have to be trained to deal with such incidents. A new legislation came into force in May 2005 which punishes those who assault emergency workers. This legislation covers health workers only when they are working under emergency situations.
The public services union, Unison is calling for stringent punishment to those who assault health workers, as such abusive behavior on the part of the public is on the rise. This is particularly so when nurses make house visits to patients. The aggressors are usually the visitors or relatives of the patients. Treatment can be withheld by NHS in extreme cases. It is also necessary for the employer of the nurse to take such incidents seriously and prosecute the offender, to help nurses feel that such incidents are worth reporting.