Ambulance workers spat at and sexually assaulted nearly 10,000 times over past five years as abuse hits new peak

4 June 2023, 21:46

Ambulance staff are pictured in Westminster last month
Ambulance staff are pictured in Westminster last month. Picture: Alamy

By Adam Solomons

Abuse against ambulance workers is at its highest level for at least five years as data reveals almost 10,000 cases of sexual assault, head-butting and more since 2017.

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Abuse and assaults against 999 responders rose by almost a quarter over the past five years, stats handed to the GMB union by eight of the UK's 13 main ambulance trusts show.

More than 1,200 of the 9,500 recorded incidents were sexual assaults, GMB found.

Other vile incidents included crews being bitten, head-butted, spat at and struck with weapons.

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Leeds ambulance staff are pictured doing their jobs earlier this year
Leeds ambulance staff are pictured doing their jobs earlier this year. Picture: Alamy

GMB national secretary Rachel Harrison said: “Ambulance workers go to work every day to save lives.

“Despite this, thousands of them are bitten, attacked, spat at and even sexually assaulted.

“No one should have to put up with that, least of all those who are there to protect us.

“GMB members helped change the law but more needs to be done.

“We demand full enforcement of the Protect the Protectors legislation, investment in better systems to flag offenders, and much better support for the victims of violence.”

Union rep Rachel Harrison, pictured during an appearance at a select committee in Parliament, called for worker protections to be more strongly enforced
Union rep Rachel Harrison, pictured during an appearance at a select committee in Parliament, called for worker protections to be more strongly enforced. Picture: Parliament TV

A government spokesperson told Metro: "Assaults on members of our emergency services are completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

"The government has doubled the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker so those convicted face up to two years’ imprisonment, with escalating sentences for more serious incidents.

"We are also working closely with NHS England as it takes action to prevent and reduce violence against staff, including through body-worn camera trials and a national violence prevention hub to ensure NHS staff can work in a safe environment."

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