Paramedics spat at by patient claiming to have Covid-19

Ambulance staff say incidents of violence and aggression have risen 64% since 2019. Credit: South Western Ambulance

Two paramedics being spat at by a patient claiming to be infected with coronavirus is just one example of how South Western Ambulance say its staff are being abused.

The emergency service says it is concerned with the rising number of assaults against its workers.

Ambulance staff reported a total of 1,584 incidents of violence and aggression during 2020, up 64% on 2019.

In November, paramedics Stuart Brookes and James Hubbart were verbally abused and spat at during an incident in Bristol. The offender was sentenced to a total of 40 weeks in prison.

It has been especially difficult over the Christmas period where 50 incidents were reported between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day - that's up by 85% on this time last year.

On Christmas Day a paramedic had to deal with a patient holding a kitchen knife before a car collided with his ambulance as he tried to leave the scene. Another crew member was threatened with a baseball bat by a motorist and a female paramedic was also assaulted while attending an incident.

In Chippenham, three ambulance responders and a police officer were assaulted by a female patient while attending an incident on Saturday 9 January.

Another woman was prosecuted on 13 January after punching a male paramedic in thestomach during an incident in Westbury in May 2020.

Paramedic Mike Jones was appointed SWASFT’s Violence Reduction Lead in November as part of its ongoing work to protect staff. Credit: South Western Ambulance Service

Paramedic Mike Jones is the Violence Reduction Lead for the service.

He said: “We are disappointed by this concerning rise in violence and aggression towards our colleagues during the busy Christmas and New Year period.

“These incidents included our control room colleagues being verbally abused, and our ambulance crews being threatened, kicked, pushed, punched, spat at and subjected to other inappropriate behaviour.

“It is unacceptable to abuse and assault our staff, and it must stop.

“We continue to work with our police colleagues to ensure all offenders are brought to justice and our people can work without being threatened or attacked.”