There were more than 41,000 assaults on mental health and learning disability NHS staff in the past year, figures show.
While overall assaults throughout the NHS were down, there were 41,569 assaults on mental health and learning disabilities workers over the past year, an increase of 224 on the previous year.
A department of health spokesman said it was “fair to derive” that most of the assaults would have been by patients, as opposed to relatives or other staff.
In total, health minister Ann Keen last week announced there were 55,709 assaults on NHS staff in 2006-07, 2,986 fewer than in 2005-06, and 4,676 fewer than in 2004-05.
The NHS Security Management Service has introduced measures to try to cut the number of assaults, such as training in conflict resolution, a tougher line on prosecutions and the introduction of local security management specialists in trusts.
Despite an NHS policy of prosecuting cases not pursued by the police or Crown Prosecution Service, only 869 people have been investigated by police over the past year.