New data reveals the numbers of attacks on ambulance staff

A parked ambulance

There have been over 500 verbal or physical assaults on the Scottish Ambulance Service’s staff by members of the public between January 2020 and October 2021, new data from the Service has revealed.  

In one incident in Oxgangs, Edinburgh on 20th November, the Service received a hoax call for a cardiac arrest, and when a crew were dispatched to the scene, the vehicle was hit with a number of unknown objects. There have also been incidents where call handlers have been verbally-assaulted, and staff members have been spat at.

The Service has a range of measures in place to help protect staff, such as training in managing aggression and assessing risk, and areas where staff have previously faced violence or threatening behaviour are taken into consideration and communicated to attending crews.  However assaults against staff leave a lasting effect, and as we come into the party season, it’s more important than ever to raise awareness of the issues.

The Scottish Government has also recently launched a campaign to tackle attacks against front-line staff. Their Health Worker Respect Campaign has been produced to help reduce levels of violent and abusive behaviour being experienced by health and social care workers following increased demands on NHS services as a result of the Covid pandemic. It also aims to raise awareness of the challenges staff are facing and the consequences inappropriate behaviour can have on staff members.

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service said:

“Assaults and anti-social behaviour are completely unacceptable, and our staff should not have to fear for their safety when treating patients, or to be verbally-assaulted over the phone when handling calls.

“They work incredibly hard, helping people in need and keeping them safe, and sadly, we've seen incidents occur in other parts of the NHS and against our police and fire colleagues too. We also provide support to staff to report incidents to Police Scotland, so that they can take the matter further.”

Posted on 24/11/2021