A union today launched a special hotline for NHS workers to report racist attacks after revealing a catalogue of abuse against black and ethnic minority staff.

Unison said a survey of 2,000 black and ethnic minority health workers revealed that more than two out of three had experienced racism at work.

Incidents included verbal and physical racism, mainly from patients, although managers were also accused of abusing workers.

Theatre nurse Eleanor Smith said one of her patients complained that she did not want to be seen by a black member of staff, while a midwife colleague was similarly rejected.

A London ambulance worker who declined to be named said racism was an "everyday experience", adding: "Just recently I spoke to a young lady who rang for an ambulance for her mother. She said, ’You’re black aren’t you?’, and went on to say how much her mother hated blacks."

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said it was "completely unacceptable" that NHS staff were facing daily incidents of racist abuse.

"The results of our survey make shocking reading. Our hotline will give people somewhere to turn to and put them in touch with organisations where they can get much-needed support and advice."

Mr Prentis said the NHS should have launched a hotline before because staff had been suffering racist abuse for years.

"Our members have put up with this for too long," he said.

• The hotline number is 0845 3550845.