NHS staff are enduring high levels of violence and abuse at work with more than ten incidents a day recorded in Greater Glasgow hospitals and health centres.

Over the last five years there were slightly under 20,000 incidents of violence and aggression logged in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

Across Scotland’s 14 territorial health boards, there were almost 100,000 cases.

The Greater Glasgow figures, which include health facilities in Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East and West Dunbartonshire and Inverclyde, were the highest in Scotland.

In Lothian, which includes Edinburgh, there were 19,430 over the five years and in Lanarkshire, just under 10,000.

Unions state that staffing levels are too low and the law protecting staff doesn’t cover enough workers.

Matt McLaughlin, Unison head of health, said: “Physical or verbal violence of NHS staff is simply unacceptable.

“These statistics confirm what we’ve been saying in Unison for years now. NHS workers are facing the brunt of violence in the workplace as short staffing, patient frustration and lack of security resources take its toll.

“A recent Unison survey of nursing members showed that nurses are continually working in understaffed teams and the majority of nurses (84%) have lost confidence in the official system to report critical incidence - because either it takes too long or nothing happens.”

“Some NHS staff are protected by the Emergency Workers Act 2005, but Unison has always said this does not go far enough. These figures suggest that the Scottish government must listen to Unison and take steps to ensure that NHS staff are free from violence in the workplace.”

The figures were obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who said the behaviour was “abhorrent”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "NHS staff deserve to go to work without the fear of violence or harassment.

“Hospitals and clinics are somewhere that people attend when they are at a low point, seeking care, treatment and support.

“Instead they are being confronted by a small number of people who are behaving in a despicable fashion.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats would work with nursing bodies and health boards to understand what staff need to feel safe at work and ensure that swift and thorough punishments are applied to those who behave so abhorrently.”

A spokesperson for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has a strict policy towards violence against our staff who are entitled to work free of threats, assaults and intimidation, and we take any act of physical or verbal abuse very seriously. 

“We fully support staff to report any incidents and encourage them in their pursuit of taking the perpetrators of violence against them through the justice system and offer extensive support to any member of staff who has been assaulted either physically or verbally. 

“We work closely with the local police who respond extremely quickly to any calls from our staff and offer support and advice when needed.”