Seven out of 14 Scottish health boards have reported an increase in assaults against NHS workers, according to Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker.

The party has called for more protection for NHS workers under the Emergency Workers Act 2005 after it obtained the figures using freedom of information laws.

Police, fire and ambulance crews, doctors, nurses and midwives are covered by the Act, which lists assaulting, obstructing or hindering someone providing an emergency service as a specific offence. It carries a maximum fine of £5,000 or nine months in jail. Labour has called for porters, receptionists and other workers to be granted the same protection.

Assaults increased the most in Lothian, from 1,261 in 2008 to 1,877 last year.

Mr Baker said: “I am shocked and disappointed at the rising toll of violence against NHS workers in many parts of Scotland. Those who work in the NHS should have an absolute right to feel safe from assault.

“The SNP made a manifesto commitment to extend the emergency workers legislation to cover all NHS staff. They have now been in power for three years but have done nothing,” he said.”I want to see them keep this promise and offer Labour’s support for a Bill in the next legislative programme.”

The number of assaults against NHS staff dropped to 12,275 in 2009 compared with 14,273 in 2008.