Report reveals extent of alcohol-fuelled physical assaults on ambulance staff in North East

According to a new survey, almost half of paramedics in the North East of England have been subjected to alcohol-fuelled physical assaults while on duty.

The survey of more than 350 paramedics was carried out by the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (NEAS) and Balance, the North East of England’s alcohol office. Results of the survey were published on 19 August and detail the impact of alcohol misuse on the region’s paramedics.

The report also revealed more than two in five NEAS paramedics have at some point been sexually assaulted/harassed while on duty. Additionally, nine out of ten paramedics agreed that dealing with alcohol-related callouts places an unnecessary burden on their time and resources; and three in five paramedics believed they shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of excessive consumption of alcohol.

A quarter of paramedics stated that at least 50% of their workload on weekday night times is alcohol related, while two thirds of paramedics stated that alcohol-related incidences account for at least 50% of their workload during weekend shifts.

Between April and December 2014, Balance surveyed 358 paramedics, representing 32% of the NEAS workforce, to establish how they perceive the impact of alcohol misuse on their lives. Throughout the report the term ‘paramedic’ includes the roles of emergency care support workers, technicians and urgent care assistants.

Yvonne Ormston, NEAS chief executive, said: ‘Our crews don’t just deal with drunk weekend revellers; our crews see the effects of alcohol at all times of the day and all times of the week, spread across our region and from patients of all ages and backgrounds.’

She added: ‘We take a zero tolerance approach to assault and support staff every step of the way if they have been abused. All staff also have access to a counselling service and a number of helplines to ensure their mental health is looked after as much as possible.’

In 2013/14, Balance estimated that alcohol-related harm cost the region £911 million, with the NHS paying £242 million.

Colin Shevills, director of Balance, said: ‘ It’s outrageous that paramedics don’t feel safe in their working environment as a result of other people’s alcohol misuse. These are people who are there to help us when we need it most, yet they are living in fear of physical and verbal abuse on a daily basis. How many of us would expect to work like this?

He added: ‘Our relationship with alcohol is out of control. We need to bring it under control by making alcohol less affordable, available and less widely promoted. We need the Government to support a range of targeted, evidence-based measures such as increasing the price of the cheapest, strongest alcohol products, which has been shown to save lives, reduce hospital admissions, cut crime and lessen the financial burden alcohol places on frontline services.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 19 August 2015.

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One Response to Report reveals extent of alcohol-fuelled physical assaults on ambulance staff in North East

  1. Pingback: Report reveals extent of alcohol-fuelled physical assaults on ambulance staff in North East | Rifleman III Journal

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