Assaults on ambulance staff increasing

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

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.

In Cambridgeshire there were 24 incidents of assault in 2010/11, down from 25 the previous year.

Danny Daniel, health and safety manager for the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, 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. 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.

“These acts of aggression carried out while staff try to go about their day to day work helping those in need not only affects those staff themselves but potentially presents challenges in getting resources out to other incidents.

“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.

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“The trust will continue to do all within its power to ensure that appropriate action is taken by the police and Crown Prosecution Service in relation to assaults on staff. We also train our staff to undertake a risk assessment of every situation they attend.”

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.