THE number of people being treated in hospital for knife-related wounds has risen by 50 per cent in five years.
There were 61 patients in the University Hospital of Hartlepool and University Hospital of North Tees suffering with injuries caused by a blade in 2011.
The figure is slightly higher than the 55 treated in 2010 and 50 per cent higher than the 41 seen in 2007.
Health chiefs say the number is relatively low, and because of the way the cases are recorded, it is hard to tell which injuries were caused by assault and which were by accident.
They say they do not believe there has been a big rise in stabbings or slashings but there is “concern” over the number of people being seen who have been attacked with blunt instruments, including fists.
Police say systems are in place to deal with people seen by medics who are suspected to have been attacked.
A spokeswoman for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said: “The knife and blade figures are relatively low and we can not see any great cause for concern.
“There is a much more worrying trend of assaults with blunt instruments and alcohol related injuries.
“Knife related injuries are not a day-to-day occurrence.”
The figures, released after a Freedom of Information request, show there have been 257 people treated at the two hospitals for knife related injuries between January 2007 to December 2011.
Superintendent Glenn Gudgeon, District Commander for Hartlepool, said: “We are notified by the hospital if someone has been brought in with a knife wound and they are suspected to have been involved in an assault.
“We will come down and talk to them and see if they have been a victim of a crime, what’s happened and how they have come about their injury.
“Sometimes people do not want to openly talk as they may feel intimidated by someone present, such as if it’s been a domestic violence incident, so it is key we go along and see them.”