More than 150 NHS staff are attacked every day during their work, according to latest figures.

Over a 12 month period in 2008-09, 54,758 people working in UK hospitals, ambulance services, primary care trusts and mental health services reported an assault, leading to 941 criminal sanctions, according to NHS Security Management Service statistics.

Numbers have dropped from the 2007-08 total, with 1,235 fewer attacks than last year.

Mental health and learning disability workers reported more than 70 per cent of the incidents, with 38,958 attacks. Ambulance workers had the lowest number, at 1,240 across the country.

NHS Security Management Service head Richard Hampton said in a press release: “NHS staff must be able to deliver high quality clinical care in a safe and secure environment. We are supporting staff in this aim through a network of professionally trained local security management specialists.

“New legislation is also being introduced to tackle low level nuisance and disturbance behaviour, preventing situations escalating into something more serious.

“All trusts have a responsibility to ensure that risks to their staff are minimised through guidance, support and training - and we help them do this.”