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Figures from the latest 2017 NHS staff survey, which involved 465,558 employees, showed that 15.2 per cent had experienced violence at work in the past 12 months - the highest rate in five years.

Matt Hancock is making the announcement in a speech to the Royal College of Nursing.

And for those in the most unpredictable, frontline settings - paramedics, accident and emergency staff and mental health professionals - dealing with violent or abusive patients happens all...

Mr Hancock added: 'We want to empower staff and give them greater confidence to report violence, knowing that they will see meaningful action from trusts and a consistent prosecution approach from the judicial system'.

Philip Hammond has announced a number of mental health initiatives as part of £2bn funding, £650m for social care and money for air ambulances and mentally ill veterans in his Budget for 2018.

The new strategy means watchdogs will inspect how NHS trusts are following up violent incidents reported by staff, and attempting to protect staff.

In some cases prosecutions may not be appropriate, such as when assaults are carried out by patients with dementia, brain injuries or mental health problems.

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The new plans follow the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act, which was recently brought into law and will see the maximum prison sentence for assaulting an emergency worker double from 6 months to a year.

"There are many pressing demands on NHS funding, but few more pressing than the needs of those who suffer from mental illness", Hammond said.

"It is a sad fact that nearly none of the perpetrators receive custodial sentences when they are prosecuted for assaulting our staff", the association's managing director Martin Flaherty said.

No one should be abused, threatened or attacked at work - especially when all they're trying to do is help people. We hope that the social care green paper is not further delayed: "this has huge implications for both health and social care and most importantly for the people who need these crucial services".

NHS staff spend their working days caring and saving lives, and their safety should be paramount.

"We're very proud at CPFT that innovative measures that we have put in place - our First Response Service, a 24-hour hotline for those in mental health crisis available via the NHS 111 helpline, and the 24/7 mental health support we offer to patients at our local acute hospitals, along the Sanctuary safe havens run by Mind in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough - will now be rolled out across the country".

Dr Taj Hassan, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, welcomed the initiative, saying: "Patients - and their families - coming into the Emergency Departments are often experiencing the worst day of their lives; anxious, confused and often frustrated".

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