HEALTH chiefs say they are disgusted by figures revealing that 10 ambulance staff were physically assaulted and 24 subjected to verbal abuse in Herefordshire and Worcestershire in just six months. The new figures from West Midlands Ambulance Service Trust show the despicable behaviour crews in the two counties were faced with from July 1 to December 31, 2006.
Trust chief executive Anthony Marsh, said: “The reality of the situation is that crews are punched, kicked, scratched and spat at on an increasingly regular basis. Others have been left in a state of fear, threatened with weapons and even been told that they will be killed.
“I am absolutely appalled by these figures. I find it difficult to put into words my disgust at the people who attack our staff. “Staff join the ambulance service to help others whether that person is injured or in trouble. The job they do is difficult enough without being left in fear of their lives.”
Mr Marsh added that until recently, many staff didn’t bother to report instances like these believing there was nothing that could be done. “To me that is no longer acceptable,” he said. “Make no mistake – this trust will do everything it can to bring the full weight of the law to bear on anyone who assaults a member of staff.
“We have already had good co-operation from many organisations in tackling this issue, but I will be writing to the three chief constables in our region and each of the chairmen of the magistrates court benches asking for their support in taking a no nonsense approach to people who attack trust personnel.
“We will make sure every incident is reported to the police; we are also working with the NHS Security Management Service which has powers to prosecute people through the civil courts. “The NHS has a zero tolerance policy towards violence and I intend to make sure that we provide every support for our staff who have been attacked.”
In December a man was jailed for attacking two members of staff and others are set to go to court over the coming months. Mr Marsh added: “There is absolutely no excuse for attacking ambulance staff – they are there to help people in need. “I would urge the public to show their support for ambulance crews by providing information about people who carry out assaults on our staff whether through speaking to the police or by providing details to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
By Rebecca Bourne