Please report all assaults

RRV with blurred paramedic

When ambulance staff complete their training and don their uniform with pride, their aim is to get out there in the community and help as many people as they can.

Unfortunately, however, this does also put them at a high risk of becoming a victim of violence or aggression in the line of duty. With these types of events on the increase nationally, we want to reassure you that we take reports of any such instance very seriously.

The definition of physical assault is: ‘the intentional application of force to the person of another, without lawful justification, resulting in physical injury or personal discomfort.’  The NHS includes ‘personal discomfort’ in this definition, which covers any action which makes a member of NHS staff frightened or uncomfortable, but not necessarily hurt – a push or spitting for example.

To be a physical assault, it has to be intentional. In some situations, you may judge that the person who has committed the assault may not have capacity because of a mental or physical problem, like psychosis or post-ictal. These instances are called ‘clinical assaults’. Whilst a prosecution might not always be possible, or indeed appropriate, please still make sure you report the assault. That said, a person with a mental health issue can also have the intent and capacity to harm a member of staff, and there have been several successful prosecutions in these cases.

In all scenarios, it is essential that you as the clinician make a judgement as to the state of mind of the aggressor.  If the police seem reluctant to take action, advise your manager and our Local Security Management Specialist, Anne Wright, that in your professional opinion you believed the perpetrator had the capacity to commit an assault.

Chief Executive Robert Morton said: “It is appalling that some people are violent towards you when you are trying to help and provide the best possible care to patients. There’s no excuse for attacks, and it will not be tolerated.

“One assault against a colleague is one too many and can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families.

“It is unacceptable and we will continue to work closely with police to ensure that criminal proceedings are brought against aggressors.”

We take all incidents seriously. If you ever become a victim of violence or aggression by a patient or third party we ask that you please report it via Datix – either online through East24 or by phone on 0345 602 6856. This will ensure that you receive support from your managers and Anne, who will liaise with the police where there is potential for a prosecution. 

Criminal sanctions have been brought against 66 people in the last 18-months - read more about the work we’ve done in tackling staff assaults on our website.

Published 23rd March, 2017

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