NHS security management have welcomed revisions to the prosecution code which, they say, will lead to more prosecutions and convictions for offences against health service staff.
Revisions have been made to the sixth edition of the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which highlights the public interest in prosecuting all those who attack health workers.
The code previously gave limited examples of victims who "served the public" such as police, prison officers and nurses. Broader examples now include "members of the emergency services" and "a health or social welfare professional." This signalled to prosecutors in England and Wales that an offence against anyone providing NHS services was of particular concern, said Richard Hampton, head of the NHS Security Management Service.
"This will in time lead to more prosecutions of offences against NHS staff, and in turn more convictions," said Mr Hampton. "This is again good news for NHS workers, especially those in mental health and learning disability settings - who suffer most of the reported assaults."
In 2008/09 there were 54,758 reported assaults against NHS staff in England, a reduction of 1,235 compared with the previous year. There were 941 criminal sanctions in cases of assault, compared with 992 in 2007/08.