Hospital bosses say they will not tolerate abuse against staff following a rise in incidents.
Bosses at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust have spoken out about the impact of violence and abuse from patients and their relatives.
There have been 179 physical assaults towards staff in the last year, but clinical director for accident and emergency Andy Simpson said the number of attacks are rising.
He said: “Sadly we have some people who use our services who appear to have little or no respect for the staff who are doing their best to care for them.
“We treat every patient equally and with respect, and we expect them and their relatives to treat us the same. These incidents are on the increase and it’s having an impact on our staff. Staff have been physically assaulted including being punched and kicked, resulting in them not being able to come to work as a result.”
Associate director of support services Ian Clough added: “These incidents are not just happening in the accident and emergency department, it is across the whole trust. We are aware that sometimes patient illness can cause their behaviour to change and our health professionals understand this.
“Through conflict resolution training, we train our staff to try to anticipate these situations and to prevent assaults.
“But the behaviour our staff have to deal with is simply not acceptable. We are committed to providing a safe environment for staff.
“They have every right to feel safe at work, and violent or aggressive behaviour against them should never be tolerated or accepted as being something they have to deal with as part of the job.
“It is unacceptable that our staff experience abuse when they are trying to do their job.
“It won’t be tolerated and those who assault or abuse our dedicated staff will be prosecuted.”
Tha latest figures from NHS Protect showed there were 116 physical assaults on staff in the 2014-15 financial year. Of those, 106 involved medical factors, and three resulted in some form of criminal sanctions.