Surge in attacks on ambulance workers sparks anti-abuse campaign

An ambulance service has launched a campaign to highlight violence against its staff after an increase in physical assaults over the past year.

East of England Ambulance Service is highlighting staff attacks with Don't Choose to Abuse campaign
East of England Ambulance Service is highlighting staff attacks with Don't Choose to Abuse campaign

The Don’t Choose to Abuse campaign has been created by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) following a 10 per cent surge in physical abuse. 

More than 250 assaults were recorded on staff in 2016/17, including punching, kicking, head-butting, spitting and sexual abuse. 

EEAST has been working on the project for two months, and has created two videos and a series of imagery to draw attention to the campaign, which has been rolled out on social media including Twitter and Facebook since its launch on Monday. 

One of the videos shares the real-life story of Ian Watkins, an emergency medical technician who was attacked while trying to help a drunk man with a head injury. 

The film reveals the way that Ian’s approach to his job has changed since he was attacked, and the fact that his attacker was jailed for six months. 

Social media posts shared so far also include a poster sharing the story of Gemma Brucher, a student paramedic who was head-butted in the face by a patient who became aggressive. 

The ambulance service is hoping the comms drive will put the spotlight on the problem of assaults on staff, while reminding the public there is zero-tolerance of any form of abuse against emergency workers. 

Adam Gretton, EEAST comms officer, told PRWeek: "We will be saturating our social media with the campaign over the next two weeks and we will be measuring its success through social media likes and shares, impact with local media, and the ultimate goal of helping to reduce assaults in the long term.

"Internally, we are reminding staff to report and log any abuse they receive and we are sharing staff stories to show that action is taken against those who assault our staff."

In another film, EEAST chief executive Robert Morton is featured talking about the extent of the issue, and the sharp increase in incidents. 

Coverage has been included in the Eastern Daily Press, East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star, while the campaign has also been backed on social media by Cambridgeshire Police and UNISON. 

The ambulance service is tweeting regular updates from its @EastEnglandAmb account using the #DontChoosetoAbuse hashtag. 

Meanwhile, it is planning a mass-share of its message through social media platform Thunderclap as supporters have signed up to a digital flash mob-style amplification of the campaign on Friday (1 December) at noon. 

With backing for the Thunderclap message from Basildon Hospital, South Western Ambulance Service and police forces in Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, the potential social reach will be almost half a million at the moment it goes live.


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