Ambulance crew attacks - figures are disputed

PUBLISHED: 18:00 17 July 2011

Toys banned from ambulances due to health and safety restrictions.

Toys banned from ambulances due to health and safety restrictions.

Archant

FRONTLINE ambulance crews in Weston suffered five attacks while carrying out their duty in one year - but staff representatives fear 'there were many more'.

Following a Freedom of Information Request sent to Great Western Ambulance Service, the Mercury can reveal the service’s staff reported 60 assaults during the financial year 2010/11.

Out of those, five were reported from the 40 workers based at Weston Ambulance Station in Drove Road.

The figures show the station’s staff suffered more assaults than those at the service’s 14 other stations.

Only stations in Swindon and Bristol had more reported attacks.

But the statistics, a union representative claims, do not paint the true picture of work on the frontline for ambulance crews.

UNISON steward Chris Hewett said many members of staff saw the assaults as ‘part of the job’ and did not report incidents.

He said: “I don’t believe this figure is right because many incidents go unreported – I think there were many more, maybe even double this.

“Many workers are old-fashioned in that they think the assaults are part of the frontline work.

“But this should not be the case and I’d urge people to report incidents so the service can ensure they have adequate training.”

Mr Hewett, who has been the victim of ‘several’ assaults, said the union was in discussion with the service about conflict resolution training.

A spokesman for Great Western Ambulance Service said: “While the number of assaults is comparatively small, it is totally unacceptable for any member of our staff to be attacked while carrying out their life-saving work.

“As a trust, we strongly urge staff to report incidents where they are subject to physical or verbal attack and we continue to ensure this process is as smooth and straightforward as possible.”

He said staff undergo training to prepare them for situations when they could come under attack.

The service, which covers Avon, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, attended more than 300,000 incidents during the 2010/11 period.

Have you ever seen an attack on ambulance staff? Call the newsdesk on 01934 422500.

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