Physical assaults on ambulance staff up 10 per cent

THE number of East of England Ambulance Service staff reporting physical assaults has risen by more than 10 per cent in the last year, according to new figures.

It was a similar situation in Essex, with an increase from 24 incidents in 2009/10 to 26 in 2010/11.

Overall, a total of 140 staff were assaulted in 116 separate incidents in 2010/11, compared to 125 staff assaulted in 94 incidents in 2009/10.

Figures were down in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire but up in Bedfordshire, Suffolk and, significantly, in Norfolk (from eight to 25 incidents).

Health safety and security manager for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust Danny Daniel, said assaults against staff - sometimes by the very people they are trying to help – were completely intolerable. He added that the trust would bring appropriate legal action against anyone attacking staff.

“The trust is continuing to encourage more staff to report incidents which figures will reflect,” he said.

“However while the overwhelming majority of the people our staff see are extremely supportive and appreciative of their hard work there is sadly a significant minority whose violent behaviour is absolutely unacceptable.

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“The ability of ambulance crews to work safely and unhindered is paramount not only for their own wellbeing but also that of other patients, and we totally condemn any violence carried out against them. Such attacks have potentially very serious consequences.”

There were a number of successful prosecutions in 2010/11, including a man found guilty of common assault and sentenced to six weeks imprisonment with a further six weeks suspended for 18 months. He was also required to compensate the trust and the staff member assaulted for damages.