A North East hospital trust has seen an “extremely concerning” number of incidents of violence towards staff - although figures suggest there has been a decrease compared to last year.

Warnings have also been issued over verbal attacks being potentially under-reported and the increased number of “malicious” physical assaults and aggressive behaviour.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust figures state from April to December 2023 a total of 401 violent incidents were recorded, compared to 460 in 2022.

The Northern Echo: Concerns have been raised over incident sof violence towards staff at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS

A recent presentation to Hartlepool Borough Council's audit and governance committee noted the most common type of report was “verbal abuse or disruption”, which dropped from 219 to 114.

Rebecca Denton-Smith, from the foundation trust, said: “That sometimes can get more acceptance from staff expecting that, so we’re doing a lot of work around trying to promote that and trying to empower them to report.”

She added they have various support measures in place, while they have increased security staff at peak times when incidents often occur, which has had a “positive impact”.

Concerns with personal safety also dropped from 40 to 12, while “unintentional” physical abuse, assault or violence decreased from 105 to 58.

However other areas saw increases, with incidents involving the need for use of control and restraint with a patient rising from 21 to 78, disruptive, aggressive behaviour going from 42 to 71 and “malicious” physical abuse, assault or violence from seven to 25.

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Inappropriate behaviour and/or personal comments rose from 18 to 28, sexual abuse increased from zero to five, and assaults with a weapon and racial incidents each went from four to five.

Councillor Jonathan Brash, committee chair, raised concerns violence incidents could be “quite significantly up” if an under-reporting of verbal abuse is taken into account.

He added: “It’s extremely concerning that’s what NHS staff are going through.”