Hospital workers are facing physical attacks and verbal abuse from patients and relatives on a daily basis.

Frontline staff at the county’s three main hospital trusts have reported hundreds of incidents during a year-long period. These have included being kicked, punched and scratched, sworn at and threats made down the phone.

Some incidents involve people with mental health problems or who are confused. But others include people who have been drinking or are being aggressive for other reasons.

Confrontations are more likely to happen in busy accident and emergency departments, particularly at the weekends when more people are out and about drinking.

Unions say all incidents are unacceptable and hospitals need to make sure they are protecting their staff.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals workers reported 102 physical and 149 verbal incidents between April 2013 and March this year.

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust had 58 verbal and 117 physical assaults, while East Sussex Healthcare had 135 verbal and 49 physical attacks.

All three trusts reported a drop in numbers compared with the year before. Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals has managed to halve incidents during a two-year period.

It is now considering giving security teams video cameras to wear to record violent and threatening incidents following a successful two-week trial.

GMB organiser for Brighton and Hove Gary Palmer said: “It is unclear as to whether this [reduction] is a direct result of a change of attitude towards NHS staff or simply that staff aren’t reporting incidents.”

Janet Coverdale, Western Sussex Hospitals deputy director of facilities and estates,said: “We are working with our staff to make them as safe as possible and if someone is attacked or threatened we work closely with the police and prosecutors to secure the toughest possible sanction.”