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3 December 2013, 06:45
Heart has been told NHS staff in Essex need more protection against being attacked by patients and their families.
There were almost 400 assaults on staff at hospitals in the county last year, a rise of more than 11%.
Of those, just eight resulted in a conviction.
Tim Roberts from the union Unison, said: "It is absolutely unacceptable that so many hospital staff were assaulted in Essex last year. Also its shocking that only 2% resulted in criminal sanction.
"Sadly, this is only the tip of the iceberg as violence on NHS premises remains an under-reported problem.
"No one should feel threatened at work. Our members work day in day out, providing life saving care despite the stresses caused by the Government's attacks on the health service.
"Taking the perpetrators to court may not be appropriate in every circumstance but clearly a conviction rate of 2% is not good enough.
"Only 8 people were convicted last year for attacking staff in the 5 acute hospitals in the county. More still needs to be done to ensure the NHS provides a safe working environment.
"No one has been convicted for assaulting workers at Southend Hospital for over 2 years and UNISON will be challenging the Trust to do more to address this in the future.
"The cuts and resultant pressure on services are causing growing patient frustration especially in hospitals, and have significantly impacted on staff's ability to cope.
"We also believe that the more staff are involved in decisions that affect both their safety and patient care the better equipped they are to deal with violence in the workplace."