UNION bosses have told health chiefs they must take a “zero tolerance approach” towards any verbal or physical abuse of staff at the Vale of Leven Hospital.

NHS officials have revealed that there have been more than 50 incidents of violence or aggression towards staff at the local hospital already this year – among an average of more than 350 across hospitals and health facilities in Greater Glasgow and Clyde every single month.

Targeting of Vale hospital staff reached a peak in May, according to the health board’s own figures, when 19 separate incidents were recorded in the space of one month.

Matt McLaughlin, Unison regional organiser, said: “Violence and abuse at work, in any form, is not acceptable and no worker should have to put up with it.

“While physical attacks are the most serious form of violence, Unison also knows that verbal abuse and threats are even more common.

“It is made worse partly because it is regarded by some as just ‘part of the job’.

“There are no simple solutions that can immediately eradicate all attacks on staff. However Unison expects employers to take a zero tolerance approach and do everything in their power to protect NHS staff, including prosecuting those responsible.

“Staff should not be subject to abuse or violence of any kind.”

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) says there have been on average 354 incidents of violence or aggression towards health staff each month so far this year.

Helensburgh and Lomond’s MSP, Jackie Baillie, also hit out at the shocking figures.

She told the Advertiser: “Abuse and attacks, in any form, on our hardworking NHS staff are utterly unacceptable.

“These workers have given us their all, day in and day out, to protect public health and safety.

“They do this without ever looking for thanks or praise. The very least that we can give back is to ensure that they are safe in their workplace.

“Anyone who is caught abusing staff should face serious consequences.”

Melanie McColgan, NHS GGC’s Clyde director, added: “Covid has had a massive impact on our clinical teams, who continue to provide an exceptional level of vital care and support to patients and their loved ones during such a challenging time.

“Our staff come to work to save lives, help people, support patients and their families and deliver vital care.

“All we ask is that visitors, patients and service users treat our staff with respect to allow us to continue to care for those needing medical attention in a safe and comfortable workspace.”