It also revealed concerns over staff shortages in the health service, with a third of workers saying there aren’t enough staff in the NHS for them to do their jobs properly.
About 29 per cent of staff, almost 18,000 of those who took part, said they had experienced verbal or emotional abuse, but only half reported it amid fears that nothing would be done or it would take too long for action to be taken
More than 4,000 workers – about 7 per cent of the respondents – said they had suffered physical abuse at the hands of patients or the public.
Fewer than half (46 per cent) of NHS staff agreed they could meet all the conflicting demands of their role while at work, the survey also revealed.
Nursing chiefs have now stepped up their calls for increased staffing levels.
“NHS staff on the frontline have spoken out,” said Norman Provan of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland. “It is now up to those in positions of power to listen and to act.”
The results emerge as NHS staff in Edinburgh are being transported to work by the army during the white-out weather conditions because they provide such a vital public service.
Labour’s Anas Sarwar said: “That shows the incredible commitment NHS staff have to their jobs, but they are being badly let down by the SNP Government in Edinburgh.
“Labour has been warning about a staffing crisis in our hospitals for years – if Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t listen to us she should listen to the staff, and make a start in fixing this mess.”
The survey also revealed a rise in bullying, with 9 per cent saying they had experienced bullying or harassment from their manager, up from 8 per cent in 2015.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “It is encouraging to see more staff are engaged and feel empowered to speak up after we have implemented a number of measures including the whistleblowing alert and advice services, and our commitment to introduce an independent national whistleblowing officer by the end of 2018.
“All of this is contributing to an increasingly honest and open reporting culture within the NHS.”