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London Ambulance Service Thanks Children for “Sharing” Their Mums and Dads

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The children of medics and call handlers at London Ambulance Service have been sent heartfelt letters from their parents’ bosses.

The letters have been sent to more than 1000 children thanking them for “sharing” their mum or dad with the ambulance service so they can care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah Ablewhite’s son, Jack

Paramedic Sarah Ablewhite made the difficult decision to live apart from her 14-year-old son in March.

She said: “My son Jack takes a lot of medication, also his dad has some respiratory issues, so I wanted to protect them. But it has been the hardest thing.’

“We Facetime a lot but it gets very emotional. We both go through all the emotions — he has been scared about me working but also frustrated and angry he can’t see me.’

“Getting the letter just made him so proud and lifted his spirits.”

Ambulance crew Mark Reeve has been living in a hotel since the outbreak of the pandemic to protect his asthmatic six-year-old son.

Mark Reeve’s son, Christopher

Mark said: “It has been very hard to be away from him, particularly missing his sixth birthday, but I felt it was more than just my job to be on the frontline; it was something I had to do.’

“London Ambulance Service is also my family. I don’t know when I will be reunited with Christopher but it meant so much for him to get a letter.’

“He’s no longer worried, he thinks of me as a superhero, saving lives.” 

At the peak of the pandemic, London Ambulance Service was getting as many as 11,000 calls a day.

Charlene Letts, emergency ambulance crew and a mum-of-three, suggested the Service send a message out to families at a time when staff were working long and gruelling shifts.

Charlene Letts’ children, Kiera-Louize (11), Harrison (7), and Sophia (2)

Managers thought it was a great idea and immediately starting sending out the letters — which are personalised for every child.

Charlene said: “The letters are reassuring and made our children feel so special, it said they were heroes and thanked them personally for everything they are doing to help mummy and daddy.’

“This made them feel a part of the Service and that they were helping.’

“It has given me great pleasure that something positive can come out of what has been and continues to be challenging times.”

Shurelle with his son

Emergency medical technician Shurelle Elvique said: “Listening to my eldest son read out the letter gave me a sense of pride, I had tears in my eyes.’

“My youngest said it was ok, he did not mind sharing me so I could help look after sick people.’

“The letter made me feel appreciated in such a tough time, like I was really making a difference.”

Lorraine Quinlan, who works in one of the Service’s 999 control rooms, said: “My son has been so scared and has cried every time I’ve left home to go on shift.’

“Getting this letter has been a massive boost to him — and my daughter.”

Letters have also been sent to grandchildren, cousins, nieces and nephews — any child who has struggled while a loved one has been working. 

Chief Operating Officer of London Ambulance Service Khadir Meer said: “The sacrifice that our people and their children have made during the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of extraordinary.’

“I am incredibly indebted to our team for everything they have done and continue to do to care for Londoners.’

“With my own son having received a letter from the Chief Executive, I know only too well the power of this kind of letter written personally to your child in helping them understand the role their parents have played in tackling this crisis.”

Coronavirus: Ambulance Staff Report 290 Violence & Aggression Incidents

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Hundreds of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) staff have experienced violence and aggression while working during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ambulance crews and control room staff reported 290 incidents during the first 10 weeks of lockdown from 23 March to 31 May. This figure compared with 199 during the same time period in 2019.

The majority (84%) of the cases during lockdown were verbal abuse from patients, relatives and members of the public.

There were also 46 physical assaults against SWASFT staff, up from 34 last year.

The areas with the highest number of assaults on staff were: South and West Devon (12); Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (9) and Wiltshire (8).

Emergency services and other partner agencies across the region are working together to highlight the #Unacceptable abuse and assaults faced by key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mark Walker,
Emergency Care Assistant,
SWASFT

They warn that such behaviour will not be tolerated, and action will be taken to prosecute offenders and protect staff.

Jenny Winslade, SWASFT Executive Director of Quality and Clinical Care, said: “Our ambulance crews and control room staff are working tirelessly on the frontline during this global health crisis.

“Sadly they are facing violence and aggression every day while trying to protect and save our patients’ lives, which is completely unacceptable.

“We support whatever action is necessary to protect our staff from harm, and ensure those responsible for any attacks are prosecuted.”

Several SWASFT staff have shared their stories of being assaulted while on duty in a bid to raise awareness of the problem, and to remind people of the consequences.

James Ryan,
Paramedic, SWASFT

Emergency Care Assistant Mark Walker and a police officer were spat at by a patient he was trying to treat in Dawlish, South Devon on Monday 25 May.

The offender was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison for assaulting two emergency workers and being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

Mark said: “The incident was pretty unpleasant. But for the person to be arrested, charged and sent to prison barely within 24 hours was a good outcome.”

Weymouth-based Paramedic James Ryan was attacked by a patient in the back of an ambulance while transporting them to hospital.

James said: “It was a horrible experience. The man knocked my glasses off, pinned me down and punched me. This type of violent behaviour is unacceptable.”

Keziah Pietersen has experienced physical and verbal abuse while working as a paramedic, including being kicked down a flight of stairs.

She said: “I was bruised and shaken. For a long time after whenever I was called out to a similar type of job I was wary.”

SWASFT is encouraging people to support the #Unacceptable campaign by sharing supportive #Unacceptable messages on social media.

Jenny added: “Our staff demonstrate dedication and courage every day, putting their own health at risk for the sake of patients. We are so proud and thankful for them all.

“Any incident of violence and aggression can have serious consequences on them, their families and colleagues. Please respect our people as they continue working during this difficult time.”

SWASFT is also reminding people to follow the national healthcare guidelines to wash their hands regularly, keep two metres apart in public, and get tested if they develop coronavirus symptoms.