Anger as assaults on ambulance staff soar by 20pc in a year

EEAST ambulances and Sam Older of UNISON

The East of England Ambulance Service saw a 20pc rise in assaults on its staff in 2020. - Credit: Archant/Unison

Fresh calls have been made for those who assault emergency staff to feel the "full force of the law" after more than 400 assaults on ambulance staff in the region last year. 

A report to East of England Ambulance Service's board of trustees showed in 2020/21 there were 418 attacks on staff.

The figure is the third highest in the country and a 20pc increase from the year before, which stood at 347.

The East of England Ambulance Service has been plunged into special measures following its latest CQ

The East of England Ambulance Service will talk about its response at its board meeting. - Credit: Archant

Over the last five years there have been 1,662 attacks on EEAST staff - the equivalent of six assaults a week. 

Across England there was a 6pc increase of physical assaults in 2020 with 3,569 incidents reported across all 10 ambulance trusts.

Sam Older, eastern regional director at Unison

Sam Older, eastern regional director at Unison - Credit: Unison Eastern

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UNISON eastern regional organiser Sam Older said it was "beyond the pale" those doing their job were being attacked. 

Mr Older said: “No-one should face violence at work, but when your job is rescuing the public it’s completely beyond the pale.

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“It’s not just the emergency workers that suffer - attacks can leave deep scars that stop them doing their jobs for years to come, leaving crews stretched and slowing response times.

“NHS chiefs must take attacks on paramedics seriously and those who think paramedics are fair game for assaults must face the full force of the law.”

In June, the NHS announced it would roll out body cameras to ambulance crews following the increase in assaults.

Alan Jones, leading operations manager for Waveney, has backed the body cam call.

Alan Jones, leading operations manager for Waveney, has backed the body cam call. - Credit: EEAST

This call was backed by senior paramedic Alan Jones, who along with a colleague was attacked with an eight inch knife while caring for a patient in 2016, leaving his colleague with PTSD. 

In 2018, the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act was brought in and further work has been carried out by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to ensure "effective and prosecution". 

In 2020, this led to seven criminal sanctions and 96 civil sanctions in relation to assaults on EEAST staff. 

A CPS spokesman said: "Attacks on emergency workers are totally unacceptable and the CPS will prosecute offenders when our legal test is met."

EEAST's board of trustees will meet today (Wednesday) to discuss how it will work to prevent and reduce attacks on staff. 

It has until February 2022 to show it is meeting new standards brought in by NHS England and NHS Improvement and recommends a sub group looking at violence prevention should be formed.

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