TWO doctors and nurses a week are being attacked as they work at hospitals in Bournemouth and Christchurch, it has been revealed.

In just five years, there have been 600 complaints relating to a physical assault against employees working for The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH).

A further 247 reports of verbal abuse have also been filed within the same timeframe.

The figures, which were released through a Freedom of Information request, cover 2009 to 2013, and show that hundreds of people working for the Trust have been threatened or attacked as they work.

Julie Connolly, Royal College of Nursing regional officer for Dorset and Wiltshire, condemned the incidents.

She said: “NHS staff should be able to go about their work caring for people, without fear of physical or verbal abuse. “Employers have a duty of care to ensure policies and procedures are in place to protect their staff. This should include a zero tolerance for attacks on staff, with support through the reporting procedure should an incident occur.

“In this time of severe financial restraint in the NHS it is important that employers maintain staffing levels not only for nursing staff but also support staff. This will reduce the likelihood of frightened and vulnerable patients and relatives becoming verbally, if not physically, aggressive because there are not enough staff to provide the right level of care and to address their concerns.”

Director of human resources at the Trust said aggressive behaviour “will not be tolerated”.

“Our hospitals are a safe and caring environment,” she said.

“We will not tolerate any form of violence or aggression, including verbal abuse, against our staff, visitors or patients.

“We encourage staff to report every incident, and they are given training on how to deal with aggression and violence based on the likelihood of them experiencing this in their working environment.”

The figures were released two months after Dutch national Serge Van Den Heerik was jailed for punching a doctor and making threats to kill a nurse at Royal Bournemouth Hospital.

The 38-year-old, of Southcote Road, was taken to the hospital’s accident and emergency department after he appeared to suffer a seizure on March 17.

However, while staff were carrying out sensory tests on the defendant, who seemed to be unconscious, he suddenly lashed out, punching a doctor and attempting to bite a staff nurse.

He then spat at the nurse and said: “Now you have Aids.

“You’re going to die.”

Van Den Heerik was sentenced to four months behind bars for the offences after admitting two charges of assault and one of making threats with intent to cause fear.

Violence against staff is on the rise at RBH, with 133 incidents in total reported last year, 112 in 2012 and 105 in 2011.