NHS ambulance staff who have been attacked while on duty are at the forefront of a national #WorkWithoutFear campaign.
Led by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives and supported by NHS England, #WorkWithoutFear aims to promote respect for ambulance staff across the country.
Every day last year, a staggering 32 ambulance staff were abused or attacked; more than one every hour of every day during the whole of last year, totalling 11,749 staff. This is an increase of 4,060 incidents over the last five years. The most significant rise covered the initial period of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when assaults jumped up by 23% compared with the year before.
They included kicking, slapping, head-butting and verbal abuse, and ranged from common assault to serious attacks involving knives and weapons.
Ambulance staff in the West Midlands reported a total of 5,809 abuse (physical and verbal) over the last five years.
The #WorkWithoutFear campaign highlights the profound impact of this abuse on the everyday lives of ambulance staff and aims to encourage the minority of people who might commit these offences to have respect for the people who are trying to help them, their friends and families when they need it most.
The campaign features a number of staff from all over the country who have been the victims of assault. Every month we will be adding more stories to this page, showing the impact of this abuse and aggression on our ambulance staff.
Bradley Bayton-Harvey is a Call Assessor from West Midlands Ambulance Service who faces daily abuse and threats from those he is trying to help. Watch his video here.
Sarah Haddada is a Paramedic from West Midlands Ambulance Service who has suffered violence, aggression and racial abuse from the people she is trying to help.
Deena Evans is a Paramedic from West Midlands Ambulance Service who was stabbed by the person she was there to help.
Michael Hipgrave is a Paramedic from West Midlands Ambulance Service who was stabbed by the person he was there to help.
Anthony Marsh, Chief Executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service, said:
“My staff come to work to care for others in their time of need, yet all too often they are greeted by violence and abuse. Assaults on ambulance staff, whether it be physical or verbal, are not okay and I fully support this campaign. I hope that it opens people’s eyes to the impact that abuse has on staff as well as reinforcing the message that abusive behaviour of any form is totally unacceptable.
“My staff deserve to be treated with respect and shouldn’t face a fear of attack whilst helping others. I have nothing but admiration for the brave staff taking part in the campaign in order to raise awareness of the dangers they and other emergency service workers face on a daily basis. I urge the Judiciary to use the Assaults on Emergency Workers Offences Act 2018 legislation to give appropriate sentences to those found guilty of committing this abhorrent abuse towards ambulance staff.”
Daren Mochrie, Chair of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) says:
“Unfortunately, ambulance staff face the possibility of violence, assault and aggression every time they start a shift. When they occur, these attacks have a significant and lasting impact on the team member, affecting every aspect of their life. Despite that, ambulance staff continue to turn up for work in order to help and serve their local communities.
“We hope this campaign raises awareness of the impact of this behaviour on individuals, emphasises that it is totally unacceptable in any form and ensures that our staff are treated with the respect they deserve. The Assaults on Emergency Workers Offences Act 2018 legislation is in place, but we must now see the judiciary consistently using that to issue the most appropriate sentences to those found guilty of committing these appalling crimes.”
WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?
- Spread the message that violence against NHS staff – and anybody else – is never acceptable.
- Share our #WorkWithoutFear tag on social media and share our films about some of those affected.
- Print off our posters and place them around your workplace or other social environments.
- You can download our campaign materials here