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Violent Attacks On Ambulance Staff Up 34%

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

 

VIOLENT ATTACKS ON AMBULANCE WORKERS ROCKET BY 34% IN JUST FOUR YEARS, GMB STUDY SHOWS

Ambulance staff bitten, stabbed and have blood spat at them in barrage of more than 14,000 physical assaults since 2012.

The number of violent attacks on ambulance workers in the UK increased by 34 per cent between 2012/13 and 2016/17, a major investigation by GMB, the union for ambulance workers, has revealed.

A total of 14,441 physical assaults were recorded against ambulance workers between 2012/13 and January 2018.?

In 2016/17, recorded attacks on ambulance workers averaged more than eight (8.2) every single day.

Examples of violent attacks reported by GMB members include: being bitten, stabbed, having blood spat at them by intravenous drug users, having bones broken, attempts to hit them with cars, and racist and sexual abuse.  [See notes for staff responses to a GMB survey].

The union revealed the shocking figures ahead of a crunch vote by MPs on tougher sentences for attacks on emergency workers this week.

GMB carried out a Freedom of Information Act survey of employers after national reporting of physical assaults was ended when NHS Protect was abolished last year.

A total of 72 per cent of ambulance workers have been attacked while on duty, and almost all (94 per cent) were aware of attacks on their colleagues.

The union’s survey of over 500 ambulance staff across the UK found that:

·         21 per cent of ambulance staff had to take sick leave due to violent assaults

·         37 per cent have considered leaving their job due to the threat of violence

·         Almost half (48 per cent) said the support offered by their employer was ‘inadequate’

Reports of violent assaults against health workers to the Health and Safety Executive increased by 20 per cent between 2012/13 and 2016/17, the investigation found. To be reported to the HSE, an attack must result in seven days or more off work, or a ‘specified’ injury which may include: fractures, amputation, loss of sight, brain damage, loss of consciousness and asphyxiation.

GMB is supporting new legislation that faces its final House of Commons votes this Friday [27 April 2018]. The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill would introduce a new offence of common assault against an emergency worker and require courts to treat attacks on emergency workers as an aggravating factor for sentencing purpose.

However, sexual assaults are not currently covered by the Bill. GMB’s investigation reveals that reported sexual assaults and other sexually abusive incidents increased by 211 per cent between 2012/13 and 2016/17. [4]

One Trust – South West Ambulance Service – provided a detailed breakdown of criminal outcomes. Just one custodial sentence was reported out of the 294 reported physical assaults between 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Kevin Brandstatter, GMB NHS National Officer, said:

“No one should be told that facing violence is just ‘part of the job’. The number of attacks faced by ambulance workers as they try to save lives is beyond unacceptable.

“Our members do their jobs with complete professionalism - but everyone has their breaking point.

“As lone working becomes more common and cuts to services bite, ambulance workers are increasingly vulnerable to violence in the line of duty.

“Changing the law will be an important first step as current sentences aren’t providing an adequate deterrent.

“MPs must back emergency workers by backing this crucial legislation on Friday and widening its scope to include sexual assaults.

 “The best laws will only be effective if they are enforced. Ambulance workers are there we when the public need them – and now they need us all to stand up for them.”

ENDS

Contact: GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at press.office@gmb.org.uk

[1] The GMB’s research report, In Harm’s Way: Confronting Violence Against NHS Ambulance Staff, is published today [Wednesday 25 April 2018]: www.gmb.org.uk/in-harms-way

Full tables can be found from page 31 onwards

[2]

Reported Physical Assaults by ambulance employer

Physical assaults

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trust name

 

 

2012/13

 

 

2013/14

 

 

2014/15

 

 

2015/16

 

 

2016/17

 

 

2017/18

 

 

Total

 

 

East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust*

 

 

90

 

 

131

 

 

90

 

 

172

 

 

133

 

 

137

 

 

753

 

 

East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust**

 

 

~

 

 

132

 

 

170

 

 

201

 

 

251

 

 

228

 

 

982

 

 

London Ambulance Service NHS Trust

 

 

395

 

 

414

 

 

391

 

 

456

 

 

534

 

 

353

 

 

2,543

 

 

North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

 

 

240

 

 

277

 

 

246

 

 

313

 

 

278

 

 

292

 

 

1,646

 

 

North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust***

 

 

263

 

 

314

 

 

367

 

 

402

 

 

413

 

 

449

 

 

2,208

 

 

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Health and Social Care Trust****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scottish Ambulance Service

 

 

188

 

 

185

 

 

148

 

 

183

 

 

169

 

 

105

 

 

978

 

 

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

 

 

65

 

 

132

 

 

111

 

 

129

 

 

158

 

 

124

 

 

719

 

 

Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust

 

 

111

 

 

113

 

 

126

 

 

207

 

 

234

 

 

163

 

 

954

 

 

South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

 

 

~

 

 

124

 

 

126

 

 

138

 

 

152

 

 

146

 

 

686

 

 

Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust

 

 

79

 

 

78

 

 

100

 

 

113

 

 

76

 

 

56

 

 

502

 

 

West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust

 

 

175

 

 

206

 

 

231

 

 

298

 

 

362

 

 

325

 

 

1,597

 

 

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust

 

 

68

 

 

110

 

 

148

 

 

109

 

 

219

 

 

189

 

 

843

 

 

Total

 

 

1,674

 

 

2,216

 

 

2,254

 

 

2,721

 

 

2,979

 

 

2,567*****

 

 

14,411

 

 

* EMAS said that its figures are for ‘intentional assaults’
** EEAS provided years for the calendar year 2013 to 2016, and 2017 to November 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*** NWAS provided figures for calendar years 2012 to 2017
**** NIAS did not provide figures for recorded physical assaults in time for publication, despite receiving an Information Commissioner’s Office instruction to do so

**** 2017/18 figures are for the year to mid-January 2018?

Source: GMB Freedom of Information survey of ambulance trusts and services conducted between January and February 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[3] The below quotes are drawn from GMB’s survey of ambulance staff in the UK during late February and early March. 508 responses were received from ambulance staff.

Attacks on ambulance workers

“I have been held hostage at knifepoint … I have been thrown against the side of the ambulance … A known alcoholic who we wouldn’t go buy alcohol for grabbed my arm and broke my wrist.”

“I was attacked with a samurai sword repeatedly.”

“I’ve been punched, kicked, slapped, bitten, spat on, threatened with a knife and a gun. Verbal abuse and threats of sexual violence. Threats to kill me and my family. Threats to rape my children.

“[A] mental health patient attempting to pull myself over bridge. Leg and emotional injuries sustained.”

“People are more dependent on the service and tempers are raised due to waiting times. I shouldn’t have to apologise for doing my job to the best of my abilities, when staff shortages and short-sightedness of the government not providing appropriate resources is the main factor in delays.”

Examples of impact on work and home life

“I have had to have a hysterectomy because of injuries sustained … I have now returned to work but the impact on my life has been immense. I now cannot have children and will have ongoing problems for the rest of my life.

“Drunken and aggressive male attacked me in the ambulance.  Found out later patient was Hep C positive. Resulting in blood tests for 6 months. The courts gave him a suspended sentence. It was a horrible 6 months for my family and I.

“Psychological stress. Apprehensive when a job comes in for an assault and ‘in drink/drugs’. Anxiety and stressed.”

“It has made me lose my confidence as a health care practitioner and has made me feel vulnerable.”

“I couldn’t drive for two weeks, I couldn’t manage simple tasks like washing my hair, shaving and I couldn’t even make diners or lunches. I became angry at home and frustrated.”

“Looking for a new job. My family were scared and worried for me at work.”

“I hate being a Paramedic now. If I could find work elsewhere with similar pay I would leave tomorrow.”

“[I] could not take sick leave as [my trust] do not pay unsocial payments on sick leave, [I] could not afford to lose the pay. Fearful of lone working and being sent to pubs. Can no longer drive without locking doors and suspect everyone.”

Sentencing and employer support

“I have letters that state this is part of the job and we should expect it. It’s only a matter of time before one of my colleagues or I are murdered or very seriously injured.

"Felt extremely let down by my employers and the police for attempting to prosecute and letting person off with caution, nearly finished career."

“Nothing [is] worse than being assaulted at work and then feeling left on your own to face perpetrators and the courts. It would at least look as if the Service cared about its staff and [was] serious about protecting us if a uniformed officer sat in court with you.

[4] https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/sex-attacks-ambulance-staff-triples-12410197

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/apr/23/ambulance-staff-face-rise-physical-verbal-sexual-assaults-nhs

 

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