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Ambulance staff in Northern Ireland attacked nine times every week, figures show

Ambulance staff were assaulted 452 times in the last financial year
Ambulance staff were assaulted 452 times in the last financial year

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service staff were attack nearly nine times every week in the last year, according to new figures.

Figures obtained by CambridgeshireLive via a Freedom of Information Act request show that staff were assaulted a total of 452 times in the 2018/2019 financial year.

Across Northern Ireland, England and Scotland, a member of ambulance staff was assaulted every 90 minutes, amounting to 5,855 recorded cases.

This is up from 5,192 assaults the previous year.

Attacks were both verbal and physical, including biting, punching and kicking.

In comparison to the 452 figure for Northern Ireland, ambulance staff in the north west of England were assaulted 363 times, staff in the west midlands 1,066 times and staff in London were attacked on 698 occasions.

It emerged earlier this year that there were 36 attacks on ambulance staff in Northern Ireland in January 2019 alone.

In December, the North Down area was left with significantly reduced ambulance cover on a Saturday night after two of the three crews on duty were attacked and unable to complete their shifts.

The ambulance service said at the time the level of ambulance cover in the area was “compromised for the second weekend in a row” as a result of “injuries sustained by staff responding to an emergency calls”.

During the Eleventh Night this year, four ambulance crews were attacked while attending calls.

Sara Gorton, head of health at public services union Unison, said: “It’s horrific that ambulance workers face increasing abuse and violence in the line of duty. This should never be part of the job.

“These assaults can cause long-term physical and mental harm. Courts must take advantage of new laws and give attackers stiffer jail terms. Employers and the government also must do more to prevent assaults and protect staff.”

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