You report the Lord Chancellor's recommendation that magistrates should impose appropriately tough sentences on people found guilty of attacking health workers (News, page 6, 25 June).

And you quote Royal College of Nursing general secretary Christine Hancock as saying: 'The reality is that hospitals often don't press charges.'

While we agree that the courts often appear to be far too lenient with these offenders, and that violence against staff is a very serious offence, it is unfair to blame hospitals for failing to press charges.

The sequence of events is that the victim complains to the police, who investigate the offence and decide, usually after discussion with the Crown Prosecution Service, whether to press charges.

The hospital is not responsible for pressing charges, although it should be aware of the correct procedure and be willing to support frontline staff as necessary. In our experience, this support is readily available.

John Bache

Consultant in accident and

emergency medicine

Jerry Park

Director of operations

Mid Cheshire Hospitals trust