Zero tolerance: The fresh clampdown on violence against ambulance staff

Monday, 14 October, 2013

Detective Chief Inspector Steve Benson-Davidson from South Wales Police (L-R), staff nurse Nick Goode, Cardiff and Vale UHB Case Management OfficerEmma Foley, Jon Dewis, Health and Safety Manager at the Welsh Ambulance Service, and Paramedic Manon Ludlam.

THE Welsh Ambulance Service has renewed its pledge to protect staff against violence and aggression in the workplace.

The Trust has joined forces with local health boards, police and the Crown Prosecution Service to launch a fresh crackdown on verbal and physical abuse of all NHS staff in Wales.

Partners have signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which outlines protocols on referring cases to the police, gathering evidence and giving statements. It also gives support for victims when their case gets to court.

Judith Hardisty, Director of Workforce and Organisational Development in the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Our staff should be able to work without fear of violence, abuse or harassment from any member of the public. They are there to help the community’s emergency medical needs, and do not need to be obstructed in their duty by unwarranted attacks.

“Violence not only puts our crews and call takers at risk, but prevents them from doing their job - caring for others. We condemn acts of violence and aggression against our staff and other NHS employees while they are on duty.”

In 2012-13, more than 260 incidents of violence and aggression against ambulance staff were officially recorded by the Trust. The Trust takes a zero-tolerance approach on violence and aggression towards staff, and has been instrumental in a series of successful prosecutions.

The MoU builds upon previous agreements made in Wales, including one signed in March 2007 between Welsh Government and the Crown Prosecution Service, and a second in September 2009, between Welsh Government and the Chief Constables of South Wales, North Wales, Dyfed Powys and Gwent Police.

In his endorsement of the new MoU, Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford, wrote: “Not only does this MoU provide a clear understanding of the respective roles, responsibilities and processes involved, but it will also help NHS staff themselves better understand the criminal justice system and have confidence that it can deliver the right results.

“The challenge now is to implement this MoU, with its clear statement on prosecution policy, to reinforce the message that neither violence nor aggression against NHS staff will be tolerated.”

Judith Hardisty added: “We welcome the new agreement between the police and the NHS in Wales to prosecute perpetrators of violent acts against NHS staff.”

Last week Jon Dewis, Health and Safety Manager at the Welsh Ambulance Service, joined colleagues at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff to promote the new MoU, which coincides with National Personal Safety Day (Monday, October 14).

The annual event, which is organised by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, is aimed at teaching the public how avoid violence and aggression in today’s society.  

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