THE number of attacks on hospital staff has increased, say health chiefs.
But bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust say the bulk of the assaults have been from people aged over 60 suffering with dementia and confusion.
The figures were revealed at a board meeting of Trust directors held at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, in Holdforth Road.
There were 69 physical assaults recorded from April to September this year, compared to 48 incidents in the previous six months.
Out of the latest 69, 28 took place against staff at the University Hospital of Hartlepool, and 41 at the University of North Tees, in Stockton.
Sixty-one of those attacks were described as non-intentional by older patients.
The rest were intentional, with three being reported to police.
Lynne Hodgson, director of Finance and Information, said: “The number of physical assaults has increased and we’ve had 69 reported in the first half of the year.
“Sixty-one of those were non-intentional, and that is 88 per cent of the people committing the assaults were over 60 years old.
“The assaults could continue to increase as we get elderly patients into hospital suffering with dementia and confusion.”
She added: “We have had incidents where staff have reported the assaults to police because they were intentional.
“One of those resulted in a successful prosecution.
“The person went to court and received a community order for 12 months, was ordered to pay £50 compensation to the victim, who was a a member of our staff, a £60 surcharge and £60 to the cost of the court hearing.
“It demonstrates that we take intentional assaults on staff very seriously.
“We also will always support staff through these very difficult times.”
A spokeswoman for the Trust said: “We encourage staff to report incidents and we take them all very seriously.
“We’ve found that many of them are caused by patients whose illnesses have left them confused and unable to take responsibility for their own behaviour and actions.
“However in a small number of cases the offenders have no respect for our staff and we have no hesitation in helping to bring these people to justice.”