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Just 1.5% of NHS assaults end in conviction

3 Jan 2020

Fewer than 1.5 per cent of physical assaults on NHS staff result in a conviction, new analysis has shown.

In 2017/18, the latest year for which figures are available, 190 people were convicted under the Emergency Workers Act – the legislation specifically designed to protect staff like nurses, doctors and paramedics.

Figures for the same year show there were 12,759 physical assaults recorded by health boards, meaning just 1.49 per cent led to a conviction.

That’s the lowest rate in at least six years, and means someone who attacks a healthcare worker is half as likely to be convicted now as they were in 2013/14.

Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said NHS workers would continue to be at risk unless more work was done to punish those responsible for attacking them.

The figures were collated by the Scottish Conservatives comparing data from Freedom of Information responses and Parliamentary Questions.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman described the Emergency Workers Act as providing “legal protection to ambulance workers, doctors, nurses and midwives working in a hospital or responding to an emergency”.

Anyone found guilty under the legislation faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to £10,000.

Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said:

“It would be unrealistic to expect all reports of NHS assaults to end up in the court room.

“But the fact just 1.5 per cent of physical assaults result in a conviction is a real insult to our brave healthcare workers.

“These are caring professionals who put themselves on the line to protect us – the least they should expect is protection by the law.

“Progress on tackling violence against NHS staff will never be made unless we start getting tough on those responsible for it.

“As it stands, under this soft-touch SNP government, someone who attacks an NHS worker has nearly a 100 per cent chance of getting away with it.”