STAFF in NHS facilities are continuing to face aggressive behaviour from people using facilities with statistics showing that a health worker in the Fife is much more likely to be confronted than a colleague in Tayside or Forth Valley.

Scottish Conservative MSPs and Times columnists, Liz Smith and Murdo Fraser, have called for action to be taken to curb the “shocking” number of physical and verbal assaults on NHS Fife staff, which amounted to more than 7,000 in four years, in total.

Data supplied by the health body, under Freedom of Information, reveals that NHS Fife has an unenviable record of both types of assaults, with 1,201 physical assaults and 424 verbal assaults in the 2018/19 financial year.

This figure is only marginally down from 1,270 physical assaults and 488 verbal assaults in the 2017/18 financial year. There were 1,424 physical assaults and 219 verbal assaults in the 2016/17 financial year and 1,438 physical assaults and 919 verbal assaults in the 2015/16 financial year.

The figures were far worse than neighbouring NHS Tayside (333 physical abuse and 105 verbal abuse in 2018/19) and NHS Forth Valley (909 physical abuse and 733 verbal use in 2018/19).

Commenting, Liz Smith, who represents the Mid Scotland and Fife region, said: “The number of physical and verbal assaults on NHS Fife staff is awful – truly shocking - and the Scottish Government needs to address this matter.

“It is abundantly clear that NHS medical staff are already under enormous pressure these days due to staff shortages. That situation is bad enough but to hear of this large number of physical and verbal assaults in NHS Fife is deeply concerning.

“Medical and nursing staff are trying to do their job, increasingly having to endure more demands from health board management in this day and age, so they should not be subjected to any kind of abuse from people they are trying to care for.”

And Mr Fraser added: “These figures on the number of assaults on medical and nursing staff working for NHS Fife are very worrying and alarming. No one should have to attend their work knowing that they could face either physical or verbal assault while merely carrying out their job.

“You have to ask what is being done to reduce the number of assaults on NHS staff. We must ensure that medical and nursing staff do not have to suffer these types of assaults in their workplace.”

The Scottish Government is highly concerned that healthcare workers have become common targets of violent behaviour.