ALMOST £500,000 has been paid out in staff assault claim damages by a mental health trust in Essex in the last five years, it has been revealed.

The Essex Partnership University Trust, one of the highest in England for such payouts, has settled 15 NHS staff assault claims since 2019.

These startling figures were uncovered by via a Freedom of Information request to NHS Resolution, the legal body of the NHS.

Legal Expert solicitor, Patrick Mallon, said: “These figures are extremely concerning.

“Nobody should have to feel threatened at work – especially hard-working, vital NHS staff.

“Something must be done to tackle abuse towards NHS staff who, for the majority, are just trying to do their jobs.”

Physical assaults on NHS staff are defined as “the intentional application of force to the person of another without lawful justification, resulting in physical injury or personal discomfort”.

Data revealed through Freedom of Information requests to NHS Resolution signifies that damages for these claims amount to £486,117 paid out by the trust.

The trust, which provides services countywide, has recorded 36 assault claims and incidents involving NHS staff since 2019.

Responding to these figures, a spokesman said: “Our staff provide care in often complex situations and their safety and wellbeing is our priority.

“We have introduced a number of measures to support our staff to work in safe environments.

“However, where necessary and appropriate, we ensure colleagues are supported to report incidents of this nature so they can be investigated and appropriate action taken.”

The trust have a Violence and Abuse Prevention team in place, tasked with ensuring a safe work environment for staff members.

It says it also has robust reporting procedures and dedicated advisors to aid staff during investigations and there is also psychological and wellbeing support available across the trust.

All employees are actively urged to voice concerns through the Freedom to Speak Up processes, the trust said.