HEALTH chiefs hope local bobby Alan Kille will prove to be just what the doctor ordered.

For the 52-year-old constable's beat will now include Durham City's new University Hospital of North Durham.

Nationally, hospital security has become a major issue with staff increasingly facing abuse and attack in casualty departments, particularly at weekends.

Officials at the privately-built hospital say their own security staff and CCTV have reduced crime.

But they have welcomed PC Kille's new role, saying it will provide re-assurance to patients, staff and visitors.

The officer has been based for five years at the Framwellgate Moor section house and he will be paying regular visits to the hospital, although he will not work there full-time. Kevin Walker, of Consort Healthcare, which built the hospital and leases it to the NHS, said: "In 2000 there were 102 incidents including verbal abuse, threatening behaviour and assaults on staff in the former Dryburn Hospital.

"Last year, with professional security and CCTV, there were 78 incidents, a 23 per cent drop. For the first few months of this year we have not had a single incident against staff, which is good news all round.

"But we think the presence of a police officer will be a comfort to people.''

A spokeswoman for the North Durham Health Care Trust said: "We are delighted he is coming into the hospital. It is something we have been hoping for for a while."