Nurses are more at risk from violence at work than any other profession, according to a new report from the Trades Union Congress which says violence is 'endemic' in hospitals.
But only half of trusts have an anti-violence strategy in place, the report found.
Some trusts with a strategy have a 'laid-back approach', which means attacks are rarely reported to police.
'This attitude can reinforce the 'coping' culture: health professionals often feel that dealing with awkward people comes with the job,' the report says.
It recommends increased risk assessment, steps to minimise violence, improved recording systems and assistance for victims. It calls for an extended definition of violence in regulations on the reporting of incidents.
The report quotes a recent Health and Safety Executive survey in which one in three nurses had been physically attacked in the previous year - nearly five times the average.
It also referred to a survey by the Royal College of Nursing which found half of nurses had been attacked.
The report flags up examples of good practice at Isle of Wight Healthcare trust, where a 'buddy system' helped staff to keep track of each other's whereabouts.
Violent Times - TUC report on preventing violence at work. TUC Health and Safety Unit. 0171-636 4930. Free.