Paramedics abused and assaulted while on duty, survey reveals

·2-min read
Paramedics fear for their safety while out on shift (PA)
Paramedics fear for their safety while out on shift (PA)

Hundreds of paramedics have reported being physically abused or verbally abused while working to serve the public, new data has revealed.

More than 1,600 paramedics from across the country said they feared for their own safety or had been threatened while on duty.

The College of Paramedics survey of 2,345 paramedics comes after NHS England data showed there had been a 32 per cent rises in assaults over the past five years, with 3,569 incidents recorded in 2020-21.

The revelations come as nine out 10 ambulance services across the country are in the grip of a summer crisis in demand with trusts reporting delays in answering 999 calls and patients forced to wait hours for an ambulance crew to get to then.

June was the busiest month on record for A&E departments with ambulance staff stuck for eight hours or more outside A&E with patients yet to be handed over to staff.

Tracy Nicholls, chief executive of the College of Paramedics, said: "We have long been aware of the physical and verbal abuse that paramedics suffer and the toll it takes on their health and wellbeing – but this is the first time that a large-scale survey of this kind has revealed the extent of the problem.

"It's absolutely outrageous to think that so many paramedics have been abused whilst carrying out their duties, going above and beyond to help people when they are at their most vulnerable, and often in the most challenging of circumstances. Worryingly, the abuse appears to have increased during the pandemic when paramedics are already exposing themselves to greater personal risk.”

Ambulance trusts are aiming to fit paramedics with body worn cameras while ambulances in the West Midlands have CCTV inside the ambulance which can be triggered in the event of an incident.

Parliament has also changed to the law with harsher sentences for those who commit violence against emergency workers.

Ms Nichols said: "After years of lobbying, the legislation is now in place to ensure that the worst offenders are severely and appropriately dealt with. The problem is that the law is not being used to full effect and sentences are still far too lenient. We are calling today on the courts to step up and impose the harshest penalties available to them."

The College of Paramedics has warned that the abuse paramedics are experiencing is having a direct impact on their health and wellbeing. Most paramedics surveyed, 89 per cent, said their jobs were taking a toll on their mental health and 69 per cent said this had intensified since the start of the covid pandemic.

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