WORKERS at four hospitals, including Fairfield, were physically attacked 273 times last year, new figures reveal.

Staff at Fairfield Hospital, as well as North Manchester, Royal Oldham and Rochdale Infirmary, reported a total of 1,338 incidents of abuse throughout 2013.

Of those, 273 people were physically assaulted, 23 were racially abused and five were indecently assaulted.

Another 318 staff were threatened or gestured at in an offensive way, while 719 staff reported verbal abuse.

The statistics have been revealed after a Freedom of Information request was made by the Bury and Racliffe Times to Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the hospitals.

The trust was unable to give a breakdown of the reports for the individual hospitals. But the problem of abuse is so bad that trusts across the country — including Pennine — routinely send frontline staff on courses to learn how to calm down violent patients.

The trust said physical assaults have fallen by one fifth in the last nine months.

Security manager Glynis Jones said: “The reduction has been in physical violence only as, sadly, there has been a rise in all other violence and abuse, although we believe this is due to increased awareness among our staff and better reporting.

“Our staff work very hard often under very difficult circumstances to treat and care for sick and injured patients.

“We take the safety and security of our staff and patients extremely seriously and we are looking at what we can do to reduce these figures.”

She added: “We have been listening to and working with our frontline staff, with our security teams, and also involving the police in looking at how we can address and reduce incidents of violence.”

Bury Council’s health representative, Cllr Rishi Shori, said: “I find it appalling that these hard working and inspirational people who help so many people day in day out have been subjected to such abuse. However, it is pleasing that those affected feel confident enough to raise these issues.”

Staff side secretary Joanne Heyworth, who represents 13 unions with staff as members, said: “It is, unfortunately, a risk that all frontline staff face within the NHS. Zero tolerance is the only acceptable culture that the NHS should have.

“Pennine staff are here to provide high-quality patient care, but this can be sometimes in challenging circumstances.”