Paramedic 'punched and bitten' on duty as NHS workers say abuse from patients is on the rise
ITV Meridian's Kerry Swain reports
A South Central Ambulance paramedic has described the shocking abuse he's suffered at the hands of patients, including being bitten, punched and even kicked by patients, while on duty.
Ben Glover, 43, from Southampton, changed careers just before the Covid-19 pandemic to become a paramedic. He said the abuse is having a tremendous effect on staff morale and that pressure has been increasing.
Ben said: "When the public first got behind us it was amazing - every Thursday you could hear pots and pans, clapping, cheering.
"We were noticing people buying us coffees, even letting us go first in queues.
"It was emotionally fulfilling.
"But while support is still out there, we're seeing more and more patients being verbally and even physically aggressive.
"I've been bitten, punched, hit, and it has really picked up recently. We shouldn't have to deal with it as it can have a real morale hit, and that's the last thing we need.
Ben Glover, SCAS paramedic, describes the kind of abuse he's received on the front line
He added, "Covid stunned us all because we were seeing so many things we just weren't seeing before - different illnesses, people in their 30s in cardiac arrest, and so much pressure.
"You come away from each shift and think, have I done everything right?
"There's always a niggle in the back of your head, and my anxiety has gone through the roof the last two years. We're lucky SCAS has a good set up for staff, with trauma management and counselling sessions in place.
"Like public support, it's made a massive difference to me and my colleagues."
The shocking treatment of health workers has been revealed in a survey by NHS Charities Together which surveyed more than 1,000 NHS workers.
According to the results, more than half of staff (54%) say abuse has increased since last year, and 43% saying they have personally been on the receiving end of verbal and/or physical abuse from patients.
Two-thirds (67%) agreed 'it feels like the public has forgotten NHS staff', despite services being busier than during the Covid peak.
Now, a new campaign from the organisation is asking the British public to get behind the NHS once again.
When the UK went into its first lockdown in 2020, the NHS became the nation's hero with the weekly Clap for Carers.
Thousands stood on their doorsteps and at their windows to show their appreciation for NHS workers, clapping and cheering.
Research from the charity showing the vast majority of Brits still have huge affection and admiration for NHS staff.
78% agree they still need our help and support, and 73% call staff 'inspiring' - the charity is urging everyone to show staff they still care.2
Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together, said: "Covid-19 cases are still high across the UK, and we want to shine a light on the immense pressures the NHS continues to be under.
"Staff are working long and intense hours to protect and care for us - often becoming utterly burnt out in the process - and we know how much it means to them to have the public's support.
"While many NHS staff may feel like support has waned, our research shows people across the nations are still behind them, so we're encouraging everyone to please show NHS staff some love and share the blue heart - and fundraise or donate to vital mental health and wellbeing projects if you can."