Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Attacks on medical staff are deplorable

Editor's Viewpoint

There was yet another attack on paramedics at the weekend, and it almost beggars belief why some people behave in such a shocking way.

Paramedics and other healthcare staff have difficult enough jobs without being subjected to this anti-social behaviour.

It was extremely disturbing when the Ambulance Service revealed earlier this year that there are more than 400 assaults on staff annually.

In basic terms, this is more than one per day.

Few of us are fortunate enough not to have experienced that sense of unease, and fear, when we have to dial 999 to ask someone to come to our aid, or to the aid of loved ones.

It is no surprise therefore to experience relief when an ambulance pulls up at our door.

We know we are directly in reach of medical help, and that in itself decreases the burden of the unknown, and brings reassurance that we are in the right hands.

Those who come to our aid are, in effect, the first responders, and they may be apprehensive of what they will find.

They have to decide quickly about administering treatment and then deciding on the next important steps about hospitalisation.

That is more than enough for them to handle, without approaching a scene where they may encounter opposition and downright thuggery.

As we already know, ambulance and hospital staff are facing increasing workloads due to a shortage of funding, and a lack of support for the NHS from our politicians.

Depressingly, they still cannot manage to find an agreement which will bring them back to Stormont to do the jobs which they have been elected, and are well-paid, to do.

At the moment, there is no prospect of help or any policy direction from Stormont, and along with this is the increased workload on all health professionals which the worst of winter can bring.

The vast majority of the public are strongly supportive of health professionals and of the work they do to help people from all backgrounds.

Clearly there needs to be zero tolerance from the authorities over such behaviour, allied to stiff penalties for those found guilty.

The work of our Ambulance Service, and their colleagues, is vital for our well-being.

They should be freed from the crude violence and bad behaviour of those who do not know how to conduct themselves properly.

Belfast Telegraph

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