Staff at Tolworth Hospital have been attacked by violent patients at a rate of nearly one every five days, a report recommending 24-hour security at the site has revealed.

There were 74 assaults at Tolworth between April 2008 and March this year, but a large number of attacks have probably gone unreported, the report said.

It also claimed that police did not always attend when staff rang 999.

The report, shown to board members of South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust, (SWLSGT) which runs the hospital, was based on an earlier security review, which has not been made public.

It said: “There is no security presence at Tolworth during normal working hours and on weekends from 8am to 8pm, which poses security risks to staff, as they are responsible for dealing with incidents.”

The management said there were no secure units at Tolworth, although the Shamrock ward is reserved for patients who could be a danger to themselves or others and contains two beds in which police can put people who have been arrested and sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

As a result of the report, a plan has been drawn up including training staff to deal with violent patients and sending internal bulletins to announce “good news security stories”.

Commenting on the report, Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate Helen Whately, said: “This report raises serious questions about security at Tolworth Hospital.

"South West London Mental Health Trust does have a history of security problems and though they have made improvements, there is clearly more to do.”

She said she was writing to the borough commander asking why police had failed to attend Tolworth Hospital when called.

Martin Greenslade, the new borough commander, was unavailable for comment as the Surrey Comet went to press.

New SWLSGT chief executive Judy Wilson said the number of incidents at Tolworth was a cause for concern. She said: “The trust has worked hard to reduce the risk of violence and aggression towards staff by a combination of preventative measures.

“I will personally be working hard to ensure that we foster a culture here that makes this type of behaviour unacceptable.”

Bernard Meade, a resident of nearby Red Lion Road, said: “Really mentally disturbed people should never be let in the community or these little hospitals that are not fit for purpose.

“They haven’t got the expertise on the management and nursing side, because if they did, these assaults would have never have happened.”

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