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Medic ‘assaulted and racially abused’ on board ambulance in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 18:05 18 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:05 18 May 2018

Robert Morton, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, says abuse against stafff is unacceptable. Picture: SU ANDERSON

Robert Morton, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service, says abuse against stafff is unacceptable. Picture: SU ANDERSON

A man has been charged with racially abusing a medic on board an ambulance in Suffolk.

Bosses at the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) say they are “devastated” about the incident, which allegedly took place in Lakenheath on Wednesday and involved a member of their staff.

A crew member on board an ambulance was said to have been assaulted and racially abused while trying to do their job.

Police arrested a man who was later charged with two offences: racially aggravated harassment or distress by words, and using threatening or abusive words likely to cause harassment, alarm, or distress.

Lester Burdiss, west Suffolk duty locality officer at EEAST, said abuse against staff was “not acceptable”.

He added: “Our staff are caring and just trying to do their best for our communities and those who need us most.

“We are supporting those involved and will be working with our police colleagues to ensure justice is done.”

EEAST is running a campaign called #DontChooseToAbuse, which aims to encourage members of the public to treat ambulance workers with respect.

Trust figures show 250 physical assaults were recorded against its staff during 2016/17 – a 10% increase from the previous year.

Leaders say they will always pursue criminal charges and push for the strictest action to be taken against those who abuse employees.

Robert Morton, EEAST chief executive, said: “Ambulance staff should not have to work in an environment where they fear assault or racial abuse when they are trying to care for the people of the east of England.

“It is entirely unacceptable that any member of the trust, both on the frontline or anywhere else is subjected to abuse of any kind.”

A bill is currently passing through Parliament seeking harsher punishments for people who assault emergency workers during the course of their duties.

Sam Older, regional organiser for UNISON in the East of England, said the union was supporting this bill.

“These are people who are saving lives and protecting communities,” he added.

“No one should face violence, abuse or sexual harassment while working as an emergency worker and we are told these incidents are on the rise.”

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