Violent or abusive patients may be denied care on the NHS under new proposed changes to the NHS Constitution.
According to the latest annual Nursing in Practice survey, 80% of primary care and community nurses have had experience of being verbally or physically assaulted by a patient in their career.
Following recommendations by the NHS Future Forum, the new NHS Constitution aims to give patients “stronger rights” including access to single sex wards and increased involvement in end of life care.
Under the new proposals, health professionals will also be expected to acknowledge, explain and apologise when a mistake has been made about their care.
Furthermore, health professionals will need to pledge to respond to patient complaints within three working days.
Failure to do so will mean patients may be within their rights to take legal action against the NHS organisation at fault.
"We are clear that the founding principles of the NHS - free at the point of delivery to all, regardless of their ability to pay - will not only be supported, but reinforced,” said Health Minister Norman Lamb.
"The NHS is one of this country's greatest achievements. The government will always make sure it is free to all, no matter your age or the size of your bank balance. That's why at the same time as we are protecting its budget, we are strengthening this constitution, which enshrines the right of everyone to have first class care, now and in the future.
"We said we would protect and improve the NHS, and that's exactly what we're doing."
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) warned it is “important” to “clearly explain” to the public and NHS the proposed sanctions that will be put in place to protect staff from violent attacks.