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Assaults on ambulance staff on the increase in south west, health chiefs step up zero tolerance approach

By jrmaidment  |  Posted: February 11, 2014

Assaults on ambulance staff on the increase in south west, health chiefs step up zero tolerance approach
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Paramedics have suffered broken bones and dislocated joints at the hands of yobs who assaulted them while they were just trying to do their jobs.

Shocking statistics show beating up ambulance staff who are working on the frontline is becoming a more and more common problem in the south west.

Health bosses have ramped up their zero tolerance approach to any form of abuse suffered by their staff after the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) reported an increase in the number of assaults in the last year.

There were 104 reports of physical abuse to frontline ambulance crews recorded between February 2013 and January of this year.

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The type of injuries staff received ranged from cuts and bruising and sprains through to more serious injuries like dislocations and fractures.

Of the 104 reported incidents, 73 were reported to the police and patients were arrested on 22 occasions.

Patients who have been prosecuted for assaulting staff have faced penalties including suspended sentences, community service orders, restorative orders and fines.

There are also a number of more serious cases still awaiting a court date.

Anne Payne, health, safety and security manager with SWASFT, said: “All reports of violence and aggression towards crews are taken seriously.

“Where there is sufficient evidence the Trust place a warning marker on the patient’s address and send a letter to the patient regarding their behaviour and the consequences should their behaviour continue.”

The Trust has sent out 187 warning letters to patients who have been verbally abusive or who have physically assaulted crews since February 1 last year.

Only two patients have reoffended and the warning marker placed on their property has been upgraded to include “Police Attendance Advised.”

Ken Wenman, SWASFT chief executive, said: “The Trust takes incidents of assaults on staff extremely seriously and any abuse, verbal or physical, will not be tolerated.

“Every member of Trust staff plays a vital role in serving the community by helping to deliver the right care in the right place at the right time and staff should be able to fulfill their life-saving role without fear of abuse or assault.”

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