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Scotland's mental health workers 'facing rising tide of assaults'

NEW figures showing that Scotland’s mental health workers face a rising tide of assaults are “just the tip of the iceberg,” their union warned yesterday.

There were 8,519 incidents resulting in injury in the country’s mental health facilities in 2017-18 – equating to almost one an hour.

The highest number of incidents was recorded in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (3,232), followed by NHS Lothian (1,679) and NHS Grampian (1,335).

The data revealed incidents including assaults, accidents such as falls, trips and burns and substance abuse.

Scott Donohoe, head of health and safety at public-sector union Unison, said: “Every assault on a worker serving the public is an assault too many.

“Violent attacks on public-service staff have more than doubled in the last decade and the numbers keep on rising.

“We have real concerns that official figures are just the tip of the iceberg. There is evidence that we still face a good deal of under-reporting.”

Mr Donohoe said evidence of a real problem with assaults on public servants had emerged over the past decade.

“Employers must take strong action to protect workers and we need stronger legislation, regulation and oversight by government,” he added.

The new figures were obtained through freedom of information requests by the opposition Scottish Conservatives, whose mental health spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “More clearly needs to be done to reduce the thousands which occur each year.

“All political parties agree that mental health deserves parity of esteem with physical health.

“But if that is to be the case, these units have to become safer for workers and patients.”

Conrad Landin is the Morning Star’s Scotland Editor.

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