Ambulance staff attacks in the South West not recorded

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Attacks on ambulance crews in the South West are going unrecorded because staff are struggling to use a computer recording system, union officials say.

Unison claims assaults on South Western Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) staff could be four times higher than official figures suggest.

The trust said 104 staff were attacked between February 2013 and January 2014.

However, in an NHS staff survey, more than 400 staff said they had been attacked over a similar period.

Ian Whittern, Unison spokesman, said they noticed "a big drop in reporting" when the system switched from a paper to a computer system in 2006, "making it made it more difficult for employees to log the incidents".

"Staff can't get back to the stations in time to access the computers to do the reporting," he said.

'Not reporting'

Mr Whittern added it was these difficulties which had led to "discrepancies" in the numbers of assault recorded in the two separate reports.

The NHS Staff Survey received responses from 1,485 employees of SWASFT and 32% said they had experienced physical violence at work.

That means 475 people should have reported incidents to the trust - not the 104 assaults officially recorded.

Anne Payne, spokeswoman for SWASFT, said there was an issue and "staff are not reporting attacks on them".

However, she said it was important to use the computerised system to rapidly alert staff to addresses where there had been problems.

"The paper system wasn't working - we weren't able to respond to anything quickly," she added.

South West Ambulance employs more than 4,000 mainly clinical and operational staff and operates across Cornwall, Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Bristol, Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

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