There has been a sharp rise in assaults on staff members at Basingstoke hospital coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic.

Figures obtained by the Gazette show that staff were attacked by patients 349 times between 2015 and 2019. This works out to be just under 70 per year.

January and February of 2020 saw a total of 11 assaults, which would work out to 66 over the course of a full 12 months.

But in March, April and May, that figure shot up.

A total of 34 assaults on staff were recorded over that three-month period, which would work out to be 136 over a full year, nearly double the average of previous years.

Although it is unclear what exactly has led to this rise, it does coincide with the start of the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, which began on March 23.

Commenting on these figures, Julie Maskery, chief operating officer of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Our teams work incredibly hard to provide the best possible care to all of our patients, and in most cases, patients and their relatives will be appreciative towards those who treat them.

“Sadly, a minority can become violent towards our staff, and any incident of violence against our staff is one too many.

“Keeping our staff and patients safe is our top priority. Alongside the training and support available to staff, we ask that any assault is reported using the appropriate channels, so that we can continue to track these incidents and identify ways to manage and minimise the risk of future events going forward.”

The figures also showed that during that same five-year period between 2015 and 2019, 323 assaults were reported at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital which serves Winchester. This is an average of five less per year than in Basingstoke.

But unlike Basingstoke, assault figures have not risen sharply since lockdown, with 20 total for the 2020 year and less than five in each of March, April and May.

For context, Andover War Memorial has not seen a single reported assault since the beginning of 2019, according to the figures.