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  1. ITV Report

Paramedic sexually assaulted by patient reveals scale of abuse suffered by staff

A paramedic who was sexually assaulted by a patient she was trying to help has spoken out to highlight just how often it happens.

Lizzie Smith has waived her right to anonymity after the man who she was treating for a head injury was sentenced.

She told ITV News about the short and long term impacts of dealing with the threat of physical and verbal assaults at work.

I was doing some checks on him - his blood pressure, things like that. I had to put something in the bin.

I bent over slightly to put something in the bin and that's when he grabbed my bum.

I like to think I'm quite feisty sometimes, that I'd know what to say, and I'd react quite quickly. But I jumped, I was so shocked. I felt a bit sick I felt upset.

I didn't say anything.

– Lizzie Smith, paramedic

Lizzie reported her attacker to the police and earlier this month he was fined and put on the sex offenders for five years.

Sexually inappropriate comments I've had a lot of and I know friends have also had homophobic abuse, racial abuse.

A weekend night shift you go into work expecting it to be honest.

– Lizzie Smith, paramedic

London Ambulance Service says between January and August this year staff reported 349 physical assaults. The includes being groped, punched and attacked with a weapon.

Medics and call handlers also reported 499 verbal attacks. But over the past ten years only 330 people have been convicted.

The GMB Union represents ambulance staff and says it put huge pressure on a service that is already stretched.

I've know individuals give up careers - 19, 20, 25 year careers and have left because of an assault - because of never being able to recover.

Often it's months down the line they're impacted by post traumatic stress disorder and we're losing really skilled employees.

– Stacey Booth, GMB Union

Lizzie hopes that by speaking up she will encourage other colleagues to do the same.

We do get so used to it - we get desensitized to it people don't make a fuss. And you know you've got to go to the next job, you know you're busy you don't report every comment that gets made to you or every inappropriate action that happens to you.

– Lizzie Smith, paramedic

London Ambulance Service says it will push for prosecution and the strongest possible sentence for anyone who assaults their staff.