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New law to protect Scottish nurses

New legislation to protect nurses in Scotland from attacks sends out a clear message that violence against NHS workers is unacceptable, the country's health minister has said.

A proposed extension to the Emergency Workers Act which protects doctors, nurses, and midwives working in the community has been laid before parliament.

It also increases the maximum penalty for assaulting health staff from nine months in jail and a £5,000 fine, to 12 months imprisonment and a £10,000 fine.

Health minister Shona Robison said extending the law will "send out a very important message that aggressive behaviour and abuse will not be tolerated".

She added: "We need to take a zero-tolerance approach to this kind of behaviour.

"What we're very keen to make sure is no matter where a health service worker works, whether that be in a hospital environment or in the community, that they get the full protection of that legislation and those mindless minority who perpetrate that type of behaviour feel the full force of the law."

But STUC deputy general secretary Dave Moxham said: "It is right that GPs, nurses and midwives are protected from violence irrespective of the location in which they work.

"However, this is a missed opportunity to review the effectiveness of the current legislation and, following consultation with trade unions, extend the law to cover all workers."

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