PARAMEDICS and ambulance staff are already doing an extraordinary job in circumstances not made any easier by the NHS crisis and how crews cannot leave a 999 patient until they have been given the medical all-clear or formally admitted into A&E. Their resources have not kept pace with increases in call-outs.
What these lifesavers, or all other public servants, doe not deserve is the type of abuse, from verbal threats to spitting to physical violence and sexual assault, meted out in the past three years.
These are not one-off occurrences involving drunks, drug addicts, the mentally ill or others who cannot control their own behaviour – there have been 1,500 reports of physical and verbal abuse in this time with 40 per cent of assaults resulting in injury. What a truly sorry indictment of contemporary Britain, a toll made even more disturbing by the testimony of Steve Krebs, a paramedic of 30 years standing, who has spoken publicly about how he feels “degraded” when spat at. He’d rather be punched.
Yet, in the eyes of the law, paramedics are second class servants. For, while it is an offence to assault a police, immigration or prison officer, with sentencing powers reflecting the seriousness of such incidents, NHS staff do not appear to come under such legislation. That is wrong, plain and simple.