Shocking new figures on alcohol related abuse of ambulance staff is ‘no surprise’

Wednesday 19th August 2015 – 10.43am – Murray MacGregor.

Ambulance bosses in the West Midlands say a new report on the level of abuse suffered by ambulance staff in the North East is sadly no surprise.

Balance North East interviewed about a third of staff at North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) to get the figures. They showed:

  • Two-thirds of paramedics stated that they felt at risk of physical assault when working in the night time economy.
  • 47% of North East Ambulance Service staff had been attacked on duty
  • 42% of crews had reported being sexually assaulted
  • 90% of staff have been threatened by an intoxicated person at least once. Almost half of staff said they had been threatened six or more times.
  • 3 in 5 paramedics say they shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of alcohol misuse.
  • Over 90% of NEAS paramedics feel that dealing with alcohol-related callouts places an unnecessary burden on their time and resources.
  • Two-thirds of paramedics said alcohol-related incidences accounted for at least half of their workload during weekend evenings.
  • Two-thirds of paramedics stated that in excess of 75% of callouts for assault were alcohol-related.

Steve Elliker, the WMAS’s Regional Head of Security and Safety, said: “It is completely unacceptable that ambulance staff should have to face violence, verbal or sexual abuse.

“Sadly, violence against our staff is something that happens every week. Very often there is a link between alcohol and the attacks.

“We will do everything possible to bring the full weight of the law to bear on anyone who attacks our staff.

It remains hugely disappointing that any of our staff should have to suffer from such abuse.”

Balance Director Colin Shevills added: “It’s outrageous that paramedics don’t feel safe in their working environment as a result of other people’s alcohol misuse.

“These are people who are there to help us when we need it most, yet they are living in fear of physical and verbal abuse on a daily basis.

“Our relationship with alcohol is out of control. We need to bring it under control by making alcohol less affordable, available and less widely promoted.

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