Physical assaults against ambulance staff rises

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New figures reveal that there were 232 physical assaults against East of England Ambulance Service staff in 2015/16, compared to 195 in 2014/15.

Criminal sanctions were brought against 66 people in the last year.

Chief Executive Robert Morton said: “It is appalling that some people are violent towards our staff when they are trying to help and provide the best possible care to patients. There’s no excuse for attacks on our staff.

“One assault against a colleague is one too many and can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families.

“It is unacceptable and we work closely with police to ensure that criminal proceedings are brought against those who attack front-line staff.”

Case studies

Southend senior paramedic Dil Patel has worked for the ambulance service for 12 years.

He said: “I was on a night shift last summer and I was called to an altercation outside some shops. As I arrived the patient was quite aggressive and was being held back by his mates.

“He was diabetic and agreed to be checked over, but he didn’t like it when I told him that I was not giving him a lift home.

“He walked towards me and at that stage the police turned up because he had smashed some windows. He was in the ambulance swearing and he struggled from three police officers and punched me and bit one of the police officers. I had a graze on my chin and I gave a statement to the police.”

The man was given an unpaid work order and ordered to pay £100 compensation.

Dil added: “On average I’m being assaulted at least once a year and it is becoming more common because we are going to more of these types of jobs. You try and do everything you can to avoid being assaulted, but sadly it is part of the job.”

Bedfordshire paramedic Lola Arch was assaulted by a man in Luton last July. He was ordered to pay fines and compensation in court. She’s worked for the ambulance service since 1999.

She said: “It was July 2015 in Luton and we were given a verbal warning by control about this individual.

“We were so cautious when we went in, but it was a very cramped environment and it was hard to get away. It was horrible and frightening because I thought he was going to strangle me. He pushed me against a wall causing bruising to my head and he threw the heart monitor at my colleague.

“It was not nice giving evidence in court to be near him and to look at him again.

“I had three weeks off work because my confidence crashed and, when I came back to work, I did not want to work on my own and my line manager worked with me to build my confidence up. I was fearful of going to similar patients and scenarios. I did not expect it to happen to me.”

Emergency medical technician Graham Hillman was on duty in Huntingdon last October when he was called to an intoxicated patient who lashed out and broke his glasses. He was then spat at. His attacker was jailed for 16 weeks and ordered to pay £125 compensation.

He said: “It is one of the most disgusting things that one person can do to another. Lashing out is bad enough, but spitting is disgusting. It makes me more wary and realise that not everyone is grateful to see us or fully in control.

“It is not the first time I have experienced violence, but is the first time I felt it needed to be reported and press charges. The sentence validates the view that this behaviour is totally unacceptable. We were off the road for four hours because of what he did.

“As 999 emergency ambulance staff, our only concern for our patients is to help them in every way that we can. We should be able to do this without fear of being attacked, assaulted or having our personal property damaged in the process of doing so.”