The Lord Chancellor has urged magistrates to get tough on offenders who attack health workers. Sentences should 'act as a deterrent', he told a magistrates' conference last week.

Responding to reports that 962 staff were injured last year as a result of assaults in hospitals, Lord Irvine declared: 'We won't stand for it any longer. I will not try to conceal that there is disquiet in some quarters about the level of sentences which are given by courts for assaults on doctors, nurses and other health workers.' Royal College of Nursing general secretary Christine Hancock welcomed the comments, but added: 'The reality is that hospitals often don't press charges.'