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Violence and aggression towards ambulance staff

Campaign by ambulance service
Photo: SWASFT

During the first 10 weeks of lockdown, more than 290 incidents of abuse and violets have been reported to the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT), ranging from being sworn and shouted at, to being spat on and kicked down the stairs.

The ambulance service stated that hundreds of paramedics and staff have endured aggression, physical violence and verbal abuse while saving lives, helping the public and performing their duties.

84% of the reports were verbal abuse from the patients, relatives and members of the public, while 46 reports were of physical assaults.

The figures, which cover the period of 23rd March and 31st May, are 45% higher than the same period of 2019.

James Ryan, a Weymouth paramedic was one of the affected South Western Ambulance Service staff. He was attacked by his patient in the back of an ambulance on route to a hospital.

It was a horrible experience. The man knocked my glasses off, pinned me down and punched me. This type of violent behaviour is unacceptable.

James Ryan, Paramedic

Another paramedic, Keziah Pietersen, stated that she regularly experiences verbal abuse and threats, and was even once kicked down the stairs while in the line of duty.

I was bruised and shaken. For a long time after whenever I was called out to a similar type of job I was wary.

Keziah Pietersen

Paramedics aren’t alone, however. Dorset Council has stated that Dorset Highways staff also face obstructive and verbally abusive behaviour too often.

Over the past few weeks, Dorset Police, Dorset Council, other emergency services and partners have been campaigning for the abuse and assaults to stop.

Our ambulance crews and control room staff are working tirelessly on the frontline during this global health crisis.

Sadly they are facing violence and aggression every day while trying to protect and save our patients’ lives, which is completely unacceptable.

We support whatever action is necessary to protect our staff from harm, and ensure those responsible for any attacks are prosecuted.

Our staff demonstrate dedication and courage every day, putting their own health at risk for the sake of patients. We are so proud and thankful for them all.

Any incident of violence and aggression can have serious consequences on them, their families and colleagues. Please respect our people as they continue working during this difficult time.

Jenny Winslade, Executive Director of Quality & Clinical Care at SWASFT

It’s time for everyone to respect the emergency services. Whether ambulance or police, the staff are all humans like you or I. They do not deserve to be abused in any way, and should not have to deal with these appalling actions while working to ensure the safety of the public.

#unacceptable

#unacceptable campaign
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