Clinical care assistant Robert Barlow and paramedic Ryan Davies

Patient sentenced after assault on staff

One of our crews responded to a patient last year that was reportedly in a life-threatening situation and upon receiving treatment, the patient initiated an assault on the two members of staff treating him and threatened them with a knife.

After pleading guilty to affray at Teesside Magistrates Court, John Mason Shields was today (11 March), sentenced to a 12-month suspended sentence for 24 months and a 12-month rehabilitation order.

Rob BarlowNEAS Deputy Chief Executive Paul Liversidge said, “We have a zero-tolerance approach to any violence, aggression or assaults on our staff and we do our utmost to provide the safest environment for staff to work in by anticipating the possible risks to staff.

“We have and will continue to support Robert through the aftermath of his ordeal with occupational health as we don’t underestimate the impact of assaults to staff mental health. As the case with Robert, assaults and abuse can make people more cautious about being placed in a similar scenario, it can increase anxiety and stress and, in some cases, it can affect a person’s ability to come to work.

“We take active steps by: encouraging staff to report incidents, issue body cameras which are acting as a deterrent to perpetrators, reducing the likelihood for assault or abuse to happen, have CCTV in our vehicles, issue warning letters to people who abuse our staff, flag addresses where violence has previously been an issue, and work closely with the police when incidents occur to prosecute where we are able to.

“It is disheartening that this year more staff have experienced verbal or physical violence from members of the public while going about their work. It is totally unacceptable that NEAS employees be subjected to any sort of violence at work.”

Clinical Care Assistant Robert Barlow, who was injured as a result of the attack from Shields said, “The incident really shocked me.  It could have been a lot worse. I was more annoyed than anything that someone we were trying to help save their life could react in this way.

“We could have been killed; I wouldn't have been able to see or help the people I love, do the things I still want to do or even say goodbye.

“It’s one thing being physically attacked by a patient, but they don’t think of the aftermath that comes with it.

“I now feel uneasy and susceptible when responding to similar situations and have nightmares of reliving the incident. I often think if I was gone how my children, wife and family would be and how I would miss out on memories with them.  

“More and more of my colleagues are experiencing incidents involving aggressiveness and assaults. This needs to stop.”

Paramedic Ryan Davies who was also attacked by Shields at the scene said, “The incident has had a lasting effect on both me and Rob. Thinking what could have happened to him and the potential for an adverse outcome. The ambulance service is there to help people in need. Violence and aggression towards us is too common and completely unacceptable.”

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