NHS staff members were victim to over 700 assaults across the county last year.

In 2023 alone, University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust said there were 709 separate incidents of colleagues being attacked by patients and visitors.

This was a huge increase from the 577 cases reported in 2022.

The data, obtained by The Argus through a Freedom of Information Access Request, also revealed how Worthing Hospital had the highest recorded assaults out of all the trust's hospital sites last year.

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The hospital, in Lyndhurst Road, recorded 257 assaults in 2023 alone.

This was followed by 214 in Brighton's Royal Alexandra Children's Hospital and the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, and 176 incidents at St Richard's Hospital in Chichester.

The Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath had the least amount, with 62 assaults being reported in 2023.

David Grantham, chief people officer at UHSussex said: "Abuse of any kind should not be accepted, and our colleagues have a right to feel safe at work.

"Staff have access to reporting systems, which allow for instant support and speedy investigation of any incidents.

"We have also made great efforts to make it easier for people to raise concerns at any time of day or night, and we are committed to the Sussex-wide NHS drive to protect colleagues from violence."

According to the trust, colleagues who face harassment or violence can access a range of support tools.

This includes access to counselling and support services.

These figures come after staff at the University Hospitals Sussex Trust experienced more than 1,000 sexual harassment incidents last year according to new survey figures.

For the first time, the NHS Staff Survey – an annual poll of all NHS staff, with more than 600,000 responses – asked workers if they had been the target of unwanted sexual behaviour in the previous 12 months, including inappropriate language, sexual jokes or assault.

The survey showed 11.2 per cent of 8,398 respondents said they experienced at least one incident of unwanted sexual behaviour by a member of the public last year.

This survey was completed by staff members from various hospitals across the trust.