When answering the ward doorbell, the woman was grabbed and thrown two metres across the room by the patient, who suffers from schizophrenia. She landed heavily on the floor, fracturing her left wrist and finger.

The UNISON member, who has worked in the NHS for more than 25 years, was forced to take five months off work to recover from her injuries during which time she relied on help from friends and family as she was unable to drive. She also spent four weeks in plaster and had a course of physiotherapy for 13 weeks.

The patient who attacked her had a history of violence and aggression and should not have been on that particular ward as the staff at the hospital had not been given sufficient training on how to deal with a patient who posed such a danger. On the day of the incident the patient had refused to take his medication.

The UNISON member said: “I know that the attack wasn’t targeted at me because the patient was not really in control of his actions, but the NHS Trust does have a responsibility to protect healthcare professionals; this assault was most certainly a shock, and very painful.

“I’m very grateful for the support I received from UNISON and Thompsons Solicitors throughout the process, which culminated in a fair settlement.”

UNISON's Head of Health Christina McAnea said: “Nobody should experience violence at work, but unfortunately it does happen, and the risk of exposure for people working in certain areas of the health service is becoming more common. Employers have a responsibility to ensure that staff are protected, or at the very least have adequate training, to deal with what can sometimes be very dangerous working environments.”

Katrina Rowan, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “In this case, the NHS trust involved failed to adequately protect a member of its staff, resulting in a violent attack, which may have been avoided if the member of staff had been provided with the appropriate guidance on how to manage a situation like she found herself in.”