'Paramedics often threatened with violence'

One paramedic speaks out after Healthcare Commission report released

Ambulance staff in Luton and Dunstable are being threatened with violence from patients on a weekly basis, a local paramedic has revealed.

The Healthcare Commission released a report this week which stated that 29 per cent of ambulance staff in the East Of England Ambulance Service, which covers Bedfordshire, have experienced physical violence from patients or their relatives in the past 12 months.

But one paramedic, who did not want to be named, told Luton Today that in actual fact, ambulance staff have to deal with physical violence every week but don't report it to their managers.

The paramedic said: "I've had blood spat in my face, I've been punched and have had people trying to kick me. The ambulance service deal with violence certainly every Friday and Saturday night."

Last year there were 77 recorded assaults within the East of England Ambulance Service.

An ambulance spokesman said the trust does not tolerate any physical or verbal violence towards staff.

The Healthcare Commission study questioned workers in all healthcare trusts in the country, and covered subjects such as physical violence, working hours, training and safety at work.

At Luton & Dunstable Hospital, 12 per cent of staff said they had been the victims of physical violence from patients or their relatives, and 30 per cent suffered work-related stress.

Hospital spokesman Barry Mayes said the L&D also refuses to tolerate violence towards staff.

Staff working for the Luton Primary Care Trust (PCT), which covers GP surgeries and community nursing, suffered two assaults in 2007 - five less than the previous year.

Luton PCT interim cheif executive Sue Assar said: "Even though we have had a very small number of cases we obviously view this very seriously as nobody should be subjected to violence while they are trying to do their job."