Attacks on Falkirk staff increase

Attacks on emergency staff have increased
Attacks on emergency staff have increased

Nearly 1000 workers employed by NHS Forth Valley and Falkirk Council have been assaulted while doing their jobs in the last year.

Latest figures obtained by public service union Unison under freedom of information legislation reveal the shocking statistics.

Across Scotland, 33,689 incidents were reported to public service employers between last September and August 2013 - up by almost 14,000 since its first survey in 2006.

Health chiefs confirmed they dealt with 818 cases of physical assaults on staff, while Falkirk Council said 153 employees were attacked and 94 more subjected to verbal abuse or threatening behaviour.

In the district’s schools, 58 teachers and 50 support for learning assistants were major targets in the classroom, as well as early years officers, pupil escorts and even a janitor. Housing staff, home helps, social workers and day care assistants have also been victims of shameful behaviour by people they are trying to help.

Dave Watson, Unison’s Scottish Organiser, said his members are paying a high price for cost cutting by bosses and claimed slashing the public service budget is to blame for the increase in violent incidents across Scottish councils and NHS Scotland.

At the union’s annual health and safety conference he told delegates: “The biggest increase in violent incidents is happening in those services that have suffered staffing cuts. Workers are stretched too thinly, dealing with the public who are coping with cuts in the services they rely on. This is a toxic cocktail that is putting hardpressed workers at greater risk of violent assault.”

The conference heard not every council responded to the survey while some public bodies have warned the situation could get worse when the full impact of welfare reform kicks in.

Health and safety chair Scott Donohoe said: “These numbers only cover recorded incidents - the tip of the iceberg of misery for many staff.”

A spokeswoman for Falkirk Council said: “We regularly review all our risk assessments, informally every six months and formally every 12 months and take into account any changes including the impact of welfare reform. We have introduced more secure, private interviewing facilities at our One Stop shops and are closely monitoring the situation.”