Victims speak out as assaults on East of England Ambulance Service staff increase
PUBLISHED: 10:56 05 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:56 05 December 2016
New figures show a 19 per cent increase in assaults on ambulance service staff working in this region, with one paramedic terrified she was going to be strangled.
There were 232 physical assaults against East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust staff in 2015/16, compared to 195 in 2014/15.
Criminal sanctions have been brought against 66 people in the last year, with excuses in court including that the offender was drunk, on drugs or couldn’t remember the incident.
Bedfordshire paramedic Lola Arch was assaulted by a man in July. She said: “It was frightening because I thought he was going to strangle me. He pushed me against a wall, causing bruising to my head, and threw the heart monitor at my colleague.
“I had three weeks off work because my confidence crashed and, when I did go back to work, I did not want to work on my own. I was fearful of going to similar patients and scenarios.”
The offender was ordered to pay fines and compensation in court.
Senior paramedic Dil Patel was on a night shift in the summer when he was called to an altercation outside some shops.
He said: “The patient was quite aggressive and was being held back by his mates. He was diabetic and agreed to be checked over, but he didn’t like it when I told him I was not giving him a lift home.
“He walked towards me and at that stage the police turned up because he had smashed some windows. He was in the ambulance swearing and punched me and bit one of the police officers.”
The man was given an unpaid work order and ordered to pay £100 compensation.
Dil said: “On average I’m being assaulted at least once a year and it is becoming more common because we are going to more of these types of jobs. You try and do everything you can to avoid being assaulted, but sadly it is part of the job.”
The Trust’s chief executive, Robert Morton, said: “It is appalling that some people are violent towards our staff when they are trying to help and provide the best possible care to patients. There’s no excuse for attacks on our staff.
“One assault against a colleague is one too many and can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families.”