‘Totally unacceptable’ - Ambulance staff abused on average three times a day

File shot of an ambulance on its way to an emergency Picture: Chris Bishop

File shot of an ambulance on its way to an emergency Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

Ambulance staff in the region were assaulted on average three times a day last year, it can be revealed.

East of England Ambulance Trust (EEAST) released the figures on Wednesday as the service took a tough line against those who abuse those on the front line.

Last year, the trust launched its Don't Choose to Abuse campaign, highlighting the violence often levied at crews trying to treat patients. And now, as the first convictions under the strengthened Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act start to trickle through, the trust has emphasised its commitment to protecting staff.

EEAST staff faced more than 1,000 incidents of abuse last year, and Dorothy Hosein, chief executive at EEAST said: 'No-one should have to face abuse as part of their job, but when ambulance crews and call-handlers, who are there to help, are abused it's totally unacceptable. Some members of our staff have reported they receive some form of abuse almost daily. This can have a cumulative effect on people's wellbeing, and part of our campaign is telling staff that if they receive abuse from members of the public, they will be supported.

'We welcome the strengthening of the law, and will support our staff in reporting abuse and pressing for the strongest penalties. So, while we appreciate that we often deal with people under difficult circumstances, we would like to remind everyone they have a choice. Don't choose to abuse – the consequences can be serious.'

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Previously Paul Marshall, sector head of service delivery at EEAST, said: 'Every day [crews] do their best to care for people, and it is entirely unacceptable that any member of our staff, both on the frontline, or anywhere else, is subjected to abuse of any kind. The trust will always support staff in pursuing criminal charges and we will always push for the highest possible action to be taken in these cases.'

Amanda Roche, 46, who insisted she be called Mrs Salim-Khan, is thought to have been the first person in Norfolk to have appeared in court charged with the new offence of assaulting an emergency worker. Under the new act those who assault emergency workers face up to 12 months in jail. However Roche, of Westwick Street, Norwich, who was charged with assaulting two police officers, was jailed for just six days.

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