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SECAmb tackles violence against staff

29 November 2010
South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust’s (SECAmb) efforts to tackle violence against staff have led to an increase in successful prosecutions for the third year running.
A total of 113 assaults were reported by staff between April 2009 and March 2010 and the Trust, which encourages staff to report all incidents of violence, threats of violence and verbal abuse, has achieved 37 successful convictions to date since April 2009. (See below for a list of recent successful convictions)
The figure is an increase of on last year’s total of 35 when the Trust more than doubled the number of successful convictions from 16 in 2007/08.
For the first year, the figures, collated by the NHS Security Management Service, have been separated into assaults which involve medical factors or not, with 32 assaults relating to a medical factor and 81 not linked to medical factors.
SECAmb’s Local Security Management Specialist David Dixon said: “We are pleased to have once again achieved an increase in successful prosecutions. We will continue to raise awareness and advise our staff that they don’t have to accept violent or abusive behaviour.
“Where possible we will always work with the police and Crown Prosecution Service to achieve the highest possible sanctions against these individuals and will also, where necessary, explore alternative measures available to us such as private prosecutions, civil action and ASBOs which can be taken against those who threaten staff.”
“It is encouraging that more staff are coming forward to report incidents rather than accept it as a part of the job because they know how seriously we treat the issue. While one incident is an incident too many, a unusually low number of incidents could be because of a low reporting culture and a lack of faith by staff in an organisation doing everything possible to achieve sanctions against individuals.”
The Trust recognises it has a responsibility to ensure its staff work in as safe an environment as possible and all operational staff are provided with conflict resolution training.
The Trust also supports a number of campaigns to reduce violence against NHS staff including the Your Choice of Treatment campaign. The campaign’s posters are carried on a number of the Trust’s frontline vehicles and deliver a clear message that people who assault NHS staff will face prosecution and possibly prison.
SECAmb Chief Executive Paul Sutton said: “Ambulance staff deserve to be able to serve their local communities in safety. We want to ensure that our staff are able to provide the care they need to, and that patients receive this care, in a safe and secure environment.”
Recent successful prosecutions against members of the public and patients include:
• A patient was given a community order of 80 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay court costs after head butting and kicking a member of staff in Snodland, Kent on 16 July 2009.
• A man was given a nine-month community order and ordered to pay court costs and compensation after threatening a member of staff with a knife when they had responded to his 999 call in Margate, Kent on August 14 2009.
• An intoxicated woman with a foot injury was being treated when she became abusive and kicked and punched the clinicians who responded to her call in Crawley, West Sussex on 13 February 2009. She was given a community order and ordered to pay compensation.
• A man received a four-month prison sentence after verbally abusing and then chasing a crew and wielding a machete in Leatherhead, Surrey, on 14 September 2009.
• A patient was given a penalty notice for a public order offence after becoming verbally abusive and violent towards a crew in Brighton, East Sussex on 14 June 2009. The patient attempted to kick and punch the ambulance crew and attacked several parked cars.
• A man was cautioned for common assault after swearing and punching a SECAmb member of staff in the shoulder and chest at Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, East Sussex on 3 April 2010.
• An intoxicated patient was cautioned for common assault after verbally abusing and then spitting in the face of a member of staff in Dartford, Kent on 5 April 2010.
• An intoxicated patient was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay court costs and compensation after assaulting a member of staff with a knife at an address in Dartford, Kent on 28 September 2010.
• A man was sentenced to eight weeks imprisonment for assault after attacking a member of staff attempting to treat him in Bogor Regis, West Sussex on Jan 30 2009.
• A man was given a two-year community order after becoming verbally aggressive and then punching a member of staff on the side of the head, as they attempted to treat him, in Worthing, West Sussex on 15 September 2009.

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