Abuse and assaults on ambulance staff 'up by a third'

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image copyrightSWAST
image captionStaff have been subjected to 1,747 incidents since the first UK lockdown, according to SWASFT

Assaults and abuse against ambulance staff at an NHS trust have increased by a third in the past year, figures show.

Staff at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) have been subjected to 1,747 incidents since the first UK lockdown.

The trust said the abuse, which included 322 physical assaults, equated to almost five incidents per day.

Mike Jones, a paramedic who works to try to reduce violence against staff, said offenders would be prosecuted.

The service, which covers Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Bristol, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire, said the 1,747 incidents that were reported between March 2020 to March 2021 represented a 33% increase on the previous 12 months.

image copyrightSWASFT
image captionNewly qualified paramedics, Kyiah Ellis and Dan Williams

Newly qualified paramedics, Kyiah Ellis and Dan Williams, were among those assaulted on duty by a patient.

The pair had been called out to reports of a man unconscious on a bus in Bath in February.

But the service said the man became physically and verbally aggressive. He shouted at them and spat in one of the paramedic's eyes.

Mr Williams said they were left "fearing for their own safety".

"We are disappointed that simply doing our job, and ultimately likely saving the life of the patient, resulted in us being assaulted," he said.

"Assaults against our ambulance colleagues are never acceptable, and leave a lasting effect."

Mr Jones said a "minority of patients and other members of the public" were responsible for the "unacceptable behaviour".

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