Hospitals are paying tens of thousands of pounds for police officers to cover accident and emergency departments on Friday and Saturday nights, it has been disclosed.
Officers cover A&E across the UK in a bid to prevent violence towards doctors, nurses and other workers, hospital trusts said.
The main reason for the introduction of police cover was to improve the perception of the work environment for staff within A&E, as well as to improve staff safety
A total of £60,000 a year pays for four officers to cover A&E at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Western Infirmary in Glasgow on Friday and Saturday nights.
Trusts in Liverpool and Newcastle also said they paid for police officers at the weekend.
From January to December 2009, Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust spent £28,980 for a police officer at Arrowe Park Hospital from 9pm to 5am on Friday and Saturday nights.
Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust pays £25,000 a year for a police officer for Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at Newcastle General Hospital.
Paul Brewis, operational services manager at the trust, said: “Due to the location of the A&E department this initiative was introduced to enhance existing security arrangements on site, to support frontline staff who may be at risk from a number of attendees and potentially subject to abuse, verbal or physical, as well as providing additional site surveillance.”
A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the trust had set up “the most comprehensive violence and aggression policy in Scotland” in 2005, which included CCTV and freephone lines direct to local police stations.
A spokeswoman for the the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust said: “The additional police support has been in place since the late 1990s/2000 and is the result of close partnership working between the trust and Merseyside Police to proactively prevent violence and aggression towards staff.”
A spokesman for Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust said: “The main reason for the introduction of police cover was to improve the perception of the work environment for staff within A&E, as well as to improve staff safety. The trust started to pay for police cover in April 2002.”
Some information from hospital trusts was provided following freedom of information requests by the Press Association.