A “worrying” level of homophobic and racist abuse against NHS staff has been recorded in Scotland, according to the Liberal Democrats.

Information obtained by the Scottish Liberal Democrats show that a total of 774 attacks occurred over the past two years against A&E staff in the country.

The party said many of the incidents had been of a homophobic and racist nature.

Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman Jim Hume said: “Our figures show that a total of 774 attacks on A&E staff took place across Scotland over 2012 and 2013. That’s equivalent to an attack a day on NHS staff.

“NHS staff at A&E units have a tough enough time trying to save the lives of patients in often traumatic conditions. It is shameful that A&E staff are having to fend off violent and verbal attacks whilst trying to do their job.

“Time is precious in A&E units and every minute which is spent dealing with abuse and calling in the police could be better spent at the bedside of patients.”

In one case of abuse a person being treated at Perth Royal Infirmary attempted to bite a staff member.

The Scottish Government said it was working to continue to bring down the rate of attacks against staff.

A spokesman said: “Attacks against NHS staff are despicable and the perpetrators should be dealt with in the strongest possible terms. There is no question that staff should feel safe in their jobs and no-one should be the victim of abuse or violence while at work.

“We are working hard to continue to bring down the rate of attacks against staff and more people than ever before are being convicted under the Emergency Workers (Scotland) Act 2005 with the penalty of up to 12 months imprisonment, a £10,000 fine or both.”