Northants councillors to look at cost of attacks on ambulance crews while on duty

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The financial cost of attacks on ambulance crews while on duty is being investigated by a group of Northamptonshire county councillors.

A working party has been set up after the issue of large legal costs was raised by county councillor Lizzie Bowen at a health scrutiny committee meeting.

During 2017/18 there were 362 physical assaults on ambulance staff in the region, according to the East Midlands Ambulance Service trust which covers Northants.

Cllr Bowen, who represents the Nene Valley ward, said: “I am concerned about staff safety and the increasing incidents of alcohol-related assaults on paramedics.

“The litigation costs are enormous.

“I’d like to know what has been done in costing out those drunken assaults to the taxpayer?

“Is it right that the taxpayer pays for something that is already over stretched?

“Should there be a different system where the fault lies with the individual?”

Deputy director of strategy for EMAS Mark Gregory told Cllr Bowen at the meeting held at County Hall in Northampton on Wednesday: “We deem any assault as entirely unacceptable.

“However it is a growing part of life for paramedics.

“As society has changed we are seeing more challenge to our staff in terms of violence and aggression.

“We actively pursue prosecution where staff have been assaulted.”

The working party made up of Cllr Bowen, Cllr Auger, Cllr Hales and Cllr Ekins will begin to look into the number of assaults on ambulance crew staff in the county and the cost of the cases in legal fees to the taxpayer.

In 2017/18 there were 775 individual incidents of assault on EMAS staff, and a spokesman said that in 194 incidents more than one type of assault took place – for example both verbal and physical or physical and sexual.

The trust launched a campaign to tackle attacks on its staff last year called Don’t Choose to Abuse.

The message is carried on the side of some ambulances.