HOSPITALS and GPs can refuse to treat abusive patients under tough new rules.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has vowed to crack down on “appalling” levels of violence and intimidation in the health service.
About 29 per cent of workers said they experienced bullying, harassment or abuse from patients or relatives in the past year.
And 7.2 per cent of NHS staff suffered racist, sexist or religious discrimination, up a quarter in four years.
From April, rules intended to protect staff will let them decline to treat any abusive patient or visitor, unless they need emergency care.
Previously, patients could only be refused help if they were aggressive or violent.
The findings come from the NHS staff survey for England, which asked the views of 569,000 health workers.
Mr Hancock has now written to them all, saying “being assaulted or abused is not part of the job”.
He said: “There is far too much violence against NHS staff, and too much acceptance that it’s part of the job.
“Far too often I hear stories that the people you are trying to help lash out.
“I am horrified that anyone would abuse or physically assault a member of our NHS staff but it happens too often.”
Racism was the most common form of discrimination, but new data shows sexism and religious intolerance at the highest levels on record.
Other findings from the 2019 poll show 40.3 per cent of staff felt unwell due to work-related stress and 22.9 per cent said they had unrealistic time pressures.
A separate survey by the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman found that one in five mental health patients do not feel safe in NHS care.
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