Why are Attacks on Paramedics on the Increase?
When you are working to serve the community, the last thing you expect is to be physically assaulted. There is nothing that angers the majority of the general public more, than one of their servants being attacked in the line of duty. Unfortunately, however, it seems to be becoming a more common concern for paramedics, especially those in the Greater London area.
Over 200 Blacklisted Addresses
Such has been the frequency of such attacks at certain locations in the Greater London area that over 200 addresses have been blacklisted by the London Ambulance Service. For such addresses, paramedics are told to wait outside until police support arrives. This could delay emergency treatment, but such is the level of concern that it is deemed a necessary step. There is also a similar register confirmed by the Greater Manchester Ambulance Service.
Although some say that the delay in medical attention may cause undue complications for those living at the addresses, including children, the overwhelming consensus is that paramedics shouldn’t expect to be attacked. Although 236 homes may seem like a lot, in the context of the whole of Greater London, it is only a few extreme cases. The measures are, thus, deemed worthwhile to reduce the number of attacks, which are obscenely high.
Around 163 NHS Staff Attacked Every Day
Despite the relatively small number of blacklisted homes, there are an astoundingly high number of attacks on NHS staff every day. Indeed, the official statistics suggest that there are 163 staff members attacked every day.
When you consider that these public servants are only ever trying to assist, this does seem incredibly baffling. Unfortunately, however, they are often dealing with individuals who are on drink or drugs and are thus volatile. They are also often called out to deal with physical disturbances and, especially in the case of domestic abuse, this can lead to confrontation.
Who is to Blame?
Although, of course, fundamentally it is the perpetrators who are to blame, and there can be no excusing attacks on anyone, let alone health workers, there are other influencing factors. Part of the blame for this increase in assaults has been put on the increasingly stretched workforce, longer waiting times and growing frustration.
What’s more is that the steepest rise has been seen in patients who are undergoing treatment. The number of convictions in such cases is limited, as their condition can be cited as a contributing factor.
The percentage of alcohol-related incidents also means that the drug of choice for many must take its part of the blame, too. Individuals with learning difficulties or mental problems, as well as those in pain, were responsible for a number of the attacks. It is clear, however, that alcohol is the one area that can be reduced easily.
What Can Be Done?
Reportedly, there are plans to strengthen the constitution of the NHS, with one article being the fact that anyone being abusive towards staff members can be refused treatment. As a preventive measure, this is only likely to have limited success, however, as most of the perpetrators are not in a sound state of mind to make rational decisions. Indeed, this may even work to anger them further.
With alcohol playing such an abundant role in a large number of such attacks, it makes sense to focus on this. There is little that can be done within the hospitals themselves to deal with such issues, as they are limited by an infamously tight budget. When you consider, however, that alcohol is reported to cost the NHS up to £160 million a year, it seems that any money spent on this issue would be rewarded handsomely.
There could also be work done with community support officers or even the police force, in order to ensure the security of hospital staff at peak times for violence. It is obvious that most of the alcohol-related incidents happen on Friday and Saturday nights, as well as on bank holidays. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure security is up to scratch at these times, in particular.
Focus on the Wider Picture
Fundamentally, however, the real focus should be on the wider picture. The problems don’t merely exist within the hospitals, but also within wider society. Moves have already been made to limit the problem of alcohol by introducing the minimum price guideline. More could be done in this respect, to ensure that alcohol is consumed more sensibly by more people. This, however, involves changing part of the very fabric of British culture and, regardless of whether it is a negative trait, this can be complicated.
Education is also important in helping to ensure that future generations are aware that violence is never an acceptable approach. Teaching more compassion, patience, focus and responsibility in schools could help with this drive.