Rise in attacks on North East ambulance staff

Figures show slight increase on previous year

Physical assaults on ambulance staff in the North East have increased slightly over the last 12-months.

Figures released by NHS Protect show North East Ambulance Service employees suffered 59 physical assaults during 2010/11 - an increase of three on the previous year.

However, overall assaults on NEAS staff were lower than the national average for English ambulance services.

There were also 115 reports of non-physical assaults in the North East during 20010/11 - down six on the previous year.

Nationally, there were 57,830 physical assaults on NHS staff last year - an increase of 1,112 on the previous 12-months.

David Edwards, NEAS Risk Officer/Local Security Management Specialist (LSMS), said:"Violence and abuse is completely unacceptable and should always be treated as such. It is not part of the job and we continue to look at avenues for reducing the risk of incidents of violence and aggression occurring.

"We now have CCTV cameras in 51 A&E frontline ambulances - half of our fleet. That is definitely assisting in reviewing reported incidents, investigation, seeking prosecutions and redress."

"Our staff and patient safety is a key priority - it is a sad reflection of our society that our staff have to experience this sort of behaviour when all they are trying to do is help members of the public".

NEAS has taken steps to streamline the process of reporting assaults in recent years, making it easier for staff to report incidents. This has led to an increase in reported incidents across the North East.

Twenty-two prosecutions were secured during 2010/11 compared to the 13 during 2009/10                

 Assaults not tolerated

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Paul Paul Liversidge, Director of Operations for the North East Ambulance Service, said:  "It is a sad fact our staff are continuously subjected to verbal and physical assaults in one form or another and we will not tolerate this.

"We encourage our staff to report any violent or abusive incident through our agreed reporting process and we will support and encourage staff to pursue the issue through the correct channels.

"During their induction course all A&E staff training which helps them deal with abusive and violent patients. We also have measures in place in our contact centre that which help the operators identify potential volatile situations so they are able to advise the crews on the most appropriate response.

"We advise and support crews if they attend a call in which they feel vulnerable to leave the scene and wait in their vehicle until the police arrive.

"Our crews should not expect to be threatened or injured when they're called to help injured patients."

Joel Byers, the North East Ambulance Service's representative for Unison said:"Unison are pleased to see the hard work being done by the trust and the union nationally and locally to reduce physical and verbal assaults on our members. We would like to see this trend repeated year on year until it's zero."

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