Nine addresses Isle of Wight ambulance crews won’t attend without backup

Violence against NHS staff on the Island mean nine addresses have been “red flagged” and ambulance crews will no longer attend.

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust said flagging an address (not an area) is a measure put in place for a limited period of time indicating that staff need to take extra care and additional support, meaning police or another ambulance vehicle should be requested.

During 2017/18 there were 189 (183 in 2016/17) assaults on staff of which 176 (174 in 2016/17) were due to a mental health or physical condition impacting on their capacity.

Thirteen assaults were criminal acts and were dealt with by the police.

There were 374 (293 in 2016/17) reports of verbal abuse.

St Mary’s stock image

Due to conflict resolution training, staff are more likely to report these incidents as there are more support mechanisms in place to safely manage these situations.

Security were called 411 times to assist the wards with situations such as violence and aggression, verbal altercations causing alarm and distress and missing patients.

Victoria White, head of ambulance at Isle of Wight NHS Trust said: “We abhor violence against ambulance staff which will not be tolerated.

“We will support any action that would see the perpetrators punished to the full extent of the law.

“Like other ambulance services we have well-established procedures to protect staff as far as possible against violence and aggression while on duty and to support anyone who has been subjected to verbal or physical assaults in the course of their work.

“This includes flagging addresses where concerns have been raised in the past, CCTV inside ambulances and the recent introduction of body worn cameras.”

St Marys Hospital. Photo by S Clarke

Rob Jubb, local security management specialist in the Health, Safety and Security Team at Isle of Wight NHS Trust added: “Physical assaults on NHS staff increased by nearly 10 per cent nationally last year.

“The collection of data on the number of assaults is vital to measure the actual level of threat our staff face. This enables us to identify trends of when and in what settings assaults take place. The flagging system is needed so that appropriate prevention measures can be introduced.

“The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Bill from November 2018 supports the maximum sentence for a new offence of assault or battery against health care staff or an emergency workers and will double the sentence from six months to 12 months in prison. As an organisation we will pursue criminal sanctions against anyone who assaults our staff.”

An IW NHS Trust spokesman said: “We declined to identify where the addresses are on the basis of patient confidentiality.

What was a flagged address for the last two weeks may not be flagged tomorrow.”