Ambulance staff attacked after hoax calls, spat on and verbally abused

There have been more than 500 verbal or physical assaults on Scottish Ambulance Service staff since January 2020.

Ambulance staff attacked after hoax calls, spat on and verbally abused Scottish Ambulance Service via SAS
SAS staff are warned about areas where crews have been violently attacked or faced threatening behaviour before.

Ambulance crews have been called to fake emergencies before being attacked, paramedics have been spat on, and people have spouted verbal abuse at call handlers, the service has revealed.

There have been more than 500 verbal or physical assaults on Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) staff by members of the public between January 2020 and October 2021.

In one incident in Oxgangs, Edinburgh, on November 20, members of the service received a hoax call for a cardiac arrest, but when a crew were dispatched to the scene the vehicle was hit with a number of unknown objects.

There have also been incidents where staff members have been spat on and call handlers have been verbally assaulted.

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Attacks reached a peak in October 2021, with 35 incidents in total.

Pauline Howie, chief executive of the SAS, said: “Assaults and anti-social behaviour are completely unacceptable, and our staff should not have to fear for their safety when treating patients, or to be verbally assaulted over the phone when handling calls.

“They work incredibly hard, helping people in need and keeping them safe, and sadly, we’ve seen incidents occur in other parts of the NHS and against our police and fire colleagues too. We also provide support to staff to report incidents to Police Scotland, so that they can take the matter further.”

SAS staff are warned about areas where crews have been violently attacked or faced threatening behaviour before.

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They are also trained in managing aggression and assessing risk, but assaults leave a lasting effect the SAS said.

As the Christmas party season approaches, the ambulance service said it is more important than ever to raise awareness of the issue.

The Scottish Government recently launched a campaign to tackle attacks against front-line staff.

The Health Worker Respect Campaign aims to help reduce levels of violent and abusive behaviour being experienced by health and social care workers following increased demands on NHS services as a result of the Covid pandemic.

It also aims to raise awareness of the challenges staff are facing and the consequences inappropriate behaviour can have on staff members.