A new campaign highlighting the ‘unacceptable face of emergency care’ has been launched this week.
East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) has launched its Don’t Choose to Abuse campaign, to highlight the problem of assaults on ambulance service staff and remind the public there is zero tolerance against any form of abuse against emergency workers.
The number of assaults against ambulance staff increases every year, with 2016-17 seeing more than 250 physical assaults recorded against staff from the Trust — an increase of 10 per cent from the previous year.
Robert Morton, EEAST chief executive, said: “Ambulance managers, staff and volunteers work hard to save lives and protect the vulnerable in our communities.
“It is totally unacceptable that they face violence and aggression, whether in person or over the phone, when they are trying to do their best for our patients.
“If someone is drunk or has taken drugs, they are still responsible for their actions. There is no excuse. Our staff should be able to do their job without fear of being attacked.”
In a survey of EEAST staff, more than 10 per cent said they regularly experienced physical abuse while working.
Physical assaults can cause a devastating impact on ambulance staff with some requiring counselling and treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Morton added: “We continue to work closely with the police to ensure that action is taken against those who assault our staff.
“Having seen first-hand the impact violence and aggression can have on my colleagues, I have in the past and will continue to call for much tougher sentences for people who assault ambulance staff and other emergency workers.”
More than 40 criminal sanctions have been brought against people who assaulted ambulance staff last year.
You can follow updates on the campaign on Twitter using the #DontChoosetoAbuse hashtag.