Paramedics living in fear of abuse while on duty, survey reveals

Almost three-quarters of paramedics based in Mansfield, Ashfield and the rest of the East Midlands have feared for their safety or felt threatened while carrying out their duties.

By Richard Silverwood
Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 4:27 pm
A paramedic on duty with an air ambulance crew.
A paramedic on duty with an air ambulance crew.

These were the alarming findings of a major UK-wide survey, carried out by the College of Paramedics which is the body that represents the profession.

Most paramedics work for NHS ambulance services, responding to 999 calls and providing emergency care and treatment.

The survey was completed by 2,345 paramedics across the country, including 101 based in the East Midlands.

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Almost half of all respondents said they had suffered physical abuse during the course of their work, while 80 per cent said they had been verbally abused.

A total of 89 per cent said their jobs were damaging their mental health, and 69 per cent this had intensified since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of those in the East Midlands, 71 per cent said they had feared for their safety or felt threatened.

The results of the survey follow the release of NHS England figures which reveal that paramedics have suffered a 32 per cent rise in assaults over the past five years, with 3,569 incidents taking place in 2020/21 alone.

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Tracy Nicholls, chief executive of the College of Paramedics, said: “This is the first time that a large-scale survey has revealed the extent of the abuse paramedics suffer, and the toll it takes on their health and wellbeing.

"It is absolutely outrageous to think that so many paramedics are abused while going above and beyond to help people who are at their most vulnerable.

"Worryingly, the abuse seems to have increased during the pandemic when paramedics are already exposing themselves to greater personal risk.

"Enough is enough! It is time for all of us to take a stand and find new ways of working together to prevent abuse, as well as demanding zero-tolerance when it does occur.”

Tracy welcomed the government's decision to provide funding for body-worn cameras for paramedics to lessen the risks, and also to introduce more severe penalties for perpetrators. But she feels even more should be done.

"One of the most worrying aspects is that paramedics are continuing to soldier on, despite being pushed to breaking point,” she added.

"It is a disgrace that they are having to work under these conditions.”

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