AMBULANCES bosses have relaunched a campaign highlighting the abuse paramedics are being forced to suffer and the potential punishment for attackers.
The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust is running an initiative called Don’t Choose to Abuse.
During the last financial year, more than 1,000 incidents were reported across the region by ambulance staff, including 252 physical attacks and eight cases where weapons were used.
A poster campaign will be going out this month to pubs, licensed premises and other public places, reminding people that assaulting ambulance crew staff can result in a prison sentence of up to 12 months.
In November, thug James Parkes was jailed for 23 weeks at Colchester Magistrates’ Court after he hurled abuse at two paramedics while they were treating a patient in Essex.
The victims felt so threatened they called the police, and the 51-year-old then proceeded to headbutt an officer.
Ambulance service chief executive Dorothy Hosein said she believed anyone who was abusive to her staff deserved a serious punishment.
“No-one should have to face abuse as part of their job, but when ambulance crews and call-handlers, who are there to help, are abused it’s totally unacceptable,” she said.
“Some members of our staff have reported they receive some form of abuse almost daily.
“This can have a cumulative effect on people’s wellbeing, and part of our campaign is telling staff that if they receive abuse from members of the public, they will be supported.
“We welcome the strengthening of the law, and will support our staff in reporting abuse and pressing for the strongest penalties.”
Mrs Hosein added: “While we appreciate that we often deal with people under difficult circumstances, we would like to remind everyone they have a choice.
“Don’t choose to abuse – the consequences can be serious.”