A recent study has shown that healthcare workers in the province of Malaga suffer an act of violence every two days. In 2017, 221 cases of assault were recorded by the Health Department and, while this is the official figure, in reality there are many more. Verbal abuse is often not recorded at all.
Last year sentences were handed down in 27 cases involving assault against a health professional in the workplace in the province. Five of these convictions were for the more serious offence of an attack on authority and the rest for threats, and causing injury.
In 2016 the Andalusian health service, SAS, gained 32 convictions, again with five being for a serious attack on authority.
The health service's existing violence prevention plan dates back to 2005 and was the first of its kind in Spain. It involves legal assistance, psychological support, training and different measures and procedures aimed at preventing and minimising cases of violence at health centres and hospitals.
Workers unable to control a violent situation are advised to call the police.
There are already elements of security in health centres such as video cameras and panic buttons, and some problematic surgeries have private security guards.