#Unacceptable assaults on emergency services staff tackling the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic will not be tolerated: South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is warning the public.
More than 100 SWASFT staff including frontline paramedics and 999 call handlers experience violence and aggression while on duty every month.
Recently, a man was jailed for 20 weeks last week for coughing in a paramedic’s face, and in another unrelated case a woman was charged with assaulting a paramedic who was called out to treat her. She is due in court later this month.
Now emergency services organisations are uniting together to highlight this #Unacceptable problem faced by staff across the region during the COVID-19 crisis.
They warn that action will be taken to prosecute offenders and protect staff.
Ken Wenman, SWASFT Chief Executive said: “Our ambulance crews and control room staff are working tirelessly on the frontline to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.’
“I am so proud of and thankful for them all.’
“Any verbal, mental or physical assault against an emergency services staff member or key worker is completely unacceptable.’
“Sadly we received 1330 incidents of violence and aggression towards our staff in the last year, which is an increase of 16% on the previous year.’
“Unfortunately these incidents have continued during the COVID-19 crisis when our staff are working in an extremely challenging environment to protect and save lives.’
“We support whatever action is necessary to protect our staff from harm and ensure those responsible for any attacks are prosecuted.”
Jennifer Winslade, SWASFT Executive Director of Quality and Clinical Care, said: “Our staff are subject to abuse and aggression every day while trying to provide fantastic care to patients. In March we saw a significant increase in aggressive behaviour towards our staff. This is #Unacceptable.”
The ambulance service is encouraging people to support the #Unacceptable campaign by sharing supportive messages on social media.
It is also reminding people to follow the national guideless of staying at home, maintaining social distance and practising good hygiene.