Attacks on ambulance staff on the rise as chiefs condemn violence
PUBLISHED: 10:22 28 June 2018 | UPDATED: 10:24 28 June 2018
Physical attacks reported by frontline ambulance staff in Suffolk have doubled in just three years, it can be revealed.
Growing numbers of East of England Ambulance Service employees are being subjected to violence or abuse, according to latest figures, which reveal 202 attacks were logged in 2015 compared with 250 in 2017.
Over this three-year period, a total of 704 incidents of physical abuse, assaults and violence were reported by staff.
In Suffolk, the number of incidents increased from 17 in 2015 to 33 in 2017.
Meanwhile in Essex, 56 attacks were logged in 2015, 65 in 2016 and 72 in 2017 – a total of 193 in three years.
Now ambulance bosses have spoken out to condemn violence against their staff.
They said: “Ambulance staff should not have to work in an environment where they fear assault or abuse of any form, especially when they are doing their best to care for people in the east of England.
“The rises in abuse seen in this FOI report is upsetting to see.
“It is entirely unacceptable that any member of our staff, both on the frontline, or anywhere else, is subjected to abuse of any kind.
They added: “The trust will always support staff in pursuing criminal charges if needs be.
“We will push for the highest possible action to be taken in all cases.”
Chiefs at the trust are currently running a #DontChooseToAbuse campaign on social media, encouraging people to make a choice and treat ambulance staff with respect.
Earlier this year Chris Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda in Wales, submitted a private member’s bill aimed at developing a new law to give harsher punishments to people who attack or sexually assault emergency workers.
It was backed by MPs and it is hoped it will soon come into effect.
UNISON regional manager Sam Older, who said other NHS workers and mental health staff are also experiencing increased violence, said he hopes the bill will act as a deterrent.
Mr Older added: “The biggest problem is certain members of the public think it is okay to attack NHS staff. We do hope that the private member’s bill for maximum sentences might deter people.”
He also gave possible reasons for the rise, including the number of jobs staff are sent out on.
But he said: “It’s unacceptable, because they go out there and do this job because they care about people. It’s in their nature.”