SCAS Ambulance Workers Admit They Don't Feel Safe

Ambulance workers from South Central Ambulance Service want more done to keep them safe claiming they need more support when facing a violent or aggressive situation.

Heart can exclusively reveal that some staff at South Central Ambulance Service don't feel enough is being done to keep them safe. 

We've been told that some crews face dangerous, unknown situations almost daily and they feel more needs to be done to protect them.

In particular, the issue of ambulance workers not having access to stab vests is something they want the Trust to consider after a worker was recently stabbed just weeks after another was attacked with a screwdriver.

This current SCAS worker has spoken to Heart in depth about the issue - the voice has been disguised.

This former worker says the issue was the same and tells Heart what happened most days at work  - the voice has also been disguised.

 

The union, UNISON have responded to our investigation.

National Officer, Alan Lofthouse who leads on ambulance members tells Heart, "it's always been an issue - violence against staff and threat of violence, whether that's verbal or physical. What we're seeing is it's a stubborn problem that really isn't going away."

Adding, "There's really been a lack of control by employers and a lack of focus by government."

You can listen to more from our interview with Alan Lofthouse below.

 

South Central Ambulance Service have released a statement about the issue:

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust Communications Department

22/03/16

John Dunn, Head of Risk and Security at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said:

As a responsible employer, South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) takes all steps, so far as is reasonably practicable, to protect its staff from violence and aggression. In addition to carrying out a risk assessment on preventing violence and aggression to staff the Trust provides conflict resolution training to frontline operational staff.

As part of our risk management arrangements, the Trust has an electronic incident reporting system and encourages staff to report all incidents including any violence or aggression incidents. The Trust will also place markers or alerts on the addresses of patients or individuals who have been aggressive or violent towards our staff.

When approaching a scene staff carry out a dynamic risk assessment and if they think that the scene is unsafe they can stand down and request further support from other Trust staff and/or the Police. Operational staff are provided with radios and can press a panic alarm if they are being subject to threats or assaulted.

If Trust staff are assaulted then we will work with the Police to try and obtain a sanction against the perpetrator.

As part of its governance arrangements with Private Providers, the Trust has regular meetings with Private Providers to check that they have suitable arrangements in place to protect patients and staff. In light of the recent assault in Dibden Purlieu the Trust is working with all Private Providers to ensure that their risk assessments on preventing violence and aggression towards their staff are suitable and sufficient and that there are robust measures in place to protect their staff.

This Trust like all of the other Ambulance Service Trusts (with the exception of London Ambulance Service) does not provide stab vests to its staff. An analysis of assault incidents against ambulance staff has identified that the most common areas of injury following assault were to the head and the arms; the two areas where stab vests would not afford any protection.

SCAS continually monitors and reviews its policies, processes, training and equipment to reduce the risk of violence and aggression, so far as reasonably practicable, to staff.

UNISON have also released some statistics which show the number of assaults for 2014/15.

Last year the total number was 1861, compared to 1868 in 2013/2014 and 1397 in 2012/13. We are told this is consistent with the overall stats in there being a sharp rise between 2012/13 and 2013/14 and a slight fall in 2014/15. 

These are reported assaults only and we are told the figures will underestimate the actual numbers.

Click here to find out more from the report.

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