The Government is stepping up its zero tolerance campaign to curb violence against front-line health workers.
Health authorities and trusts are expected to use new guidance on tackling violence from the Department of Health. This includes advice on staff risk assessment and on providing adequate protection to employees working in the community.
NHS organisations will also have to look at introducing crime prevention and safety appliances such as panic buttons, closed-circuit TV and two-way communications systems.
According to the guidelines, employers should provide training for staff to help them pacify potentially violent situations or restrain violent patients. And they should provide support for staff who are victims of violence.
Under current rules all violent incidents have to be reported, but the guidelines provide managers with advice on how to do this as well as information on how the criminal justice system works should they want to prosecute.
Under the zero tolerance campaign the NHS has pledged to reduce violence against its staff by 30 per cent between 1999 and 2003.