Am­bu­lance staff suf­fer daily abuse

Bath Chronicle - - NEWS -

Alan Ja­cob and Ed Hill work long shifts at all hours of the day and night, with no two shifts the same. But in re­cent years there seems to have been a re­cur­ring theme. A re­cent staff re­port from the NHS has re­vealed the amount of abuse and ha­rass­ment, both ver­bal and phys­i­cal, that NHS staff put up with on a daily ba­sis. Alan who joined the emer­gency ser­vices 25 years ago, the last four spent in Bath, and Ed who has worked at Bath Am­bu­lance Sta­tion for the past two years, are just two of many vic­tims to ex­pe­ri­ence ag­gres­sion to­wards them from pa­tients they are try­ing to help. In just two years Ed has been spat at and bit­ten whilst treat­ing pa­tients who have called 999. He has suf­fered ver­bal abuse and threat­en­ing be­hav­iour from pa­tients who are of­ten un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol or drugs. Ed said: “It’s ac­cepted to­day that dur­ing your shift it is likely some­one will be ver­bally ag­gres­sive to­wards you, but this doesn’t make it right.” Sim­i­larly Alan has been punched, kicked and shoved dur­ing his shifts. He said: “It’s be­com­ing more reg­u­lar. It’s shock­ing and can be in­tim­i­dat­ing.” De­spite hav­ing train­ing in how to talk to pa­tients to calm them down, the paramedics of­ten have to carry out a dy­namic risk as­sess­ments when they think there may be a phys­i­cal risk. Ed said: “It’s not some­thing you can train or pre­pare for. We are get­ting used to this and that’s sad. “You just need to keep your cool and re­move your­self both phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally. You need to re­mem­ber that they are not at­tack­ing you as a per­son but at­tack­ing the uni­form and the sys­tem. This can be hard to do when they are send­ing you per­sonal threats about find­ing you and find­ing your fam­ily but the ser­vice are in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive.” With the statis­tics of re­ported assaults in the NHS staff re­port very high, it’s wor­ry­ing that both Alan and Ed ad­mit to not re­port­ing assaults, in­di­cat­ing that in­ci­dents hap­pen more reg­u­larly than is be­ing re­ported. Ed said: “It’s a com­mon thing to be ver­bally abused.” Alan agrees: “We start to get used to the ver­bal ag­gres­sion. We shouldn’t be ver­bally abused when we are do­ing our work. We have to be care­ful not to tol­er­ate it.” De­spite this both Alan and Ed love the line of work they are in. Ed said: “We’re ob­vi­ously busy but the pa­tients are great.” Alan added: “In the grand scheme of things we meet so many pa­tients that are so grate­ful for our help. The thank you let­ters far out­weigh the abuse.” The cam­paign #Un­ac­cept­able has now been launched across emer­gency ser­vices in the South West to raise aware­ness about these is­sues. Alan said: “The pub­lic are shocked that we have to put out this type of cam­paign.” Ed said: “It’s a big push for the court and leg­is­la­tion as well as rais­ing aware­ness that this does hap­pen and that peo­ple aren’t aware that we are hu­man.”

Alan Ja­cob and Ed Hill have both sub­jected to vi­o­lence by pa­tients

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