Research has found that almost half of North East paramedics have been subjected to alcohol-related physical assaults while on duty.
The study, by Teesside University and Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, also revealed that 2 in 5 of the paramedics surveyed have been sexually assaulted or harassed by patients and members of the public who have drunk too much.
Academics from the University’s School of Health & Social Care worked on the research with the findings now published in the British Paramedic Journal.
Working with Balance and the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS), they carried out a survey of more than 350 paramedics. The results lay bare the true feelings of the hard-working staff who have to deal with alcohol-related incidents on a daily basis, with three in five saying they shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of alcohol misuse.
The research also revealed:
The research clearly shows that ambulance staff are experiencing high levels of assault and fear of assault and that current training needs to be revisited
An experienced female paramedic, who took part in the survey, said: ‘I’m regularly sworn at by patients, their friends or relatives. The fear of being assaulted or sustaining injuries is increased when dealing with intoxicated patients.’
In the UK, alcohol related harm is estimated to cost society between £27billion and £52billion annually. Healthcare costs associated with caring for those with alcohol related problems alone are estimated to be £3.5billion.
Professor Newbury-Birch, Professor of Alcohol and Public Health Research at Teesside University, said: ‘For front line emergency staff, the incidence of contact with patients with alcohol related injury or illness is increasing, along with a general increase in workload.’
She added: ‘The research clearly shows that ambulance staff are experiencing high levels of assault and fear of assault and that current training needs to be revisited.
‘Frontline staff are in a unique position where they are dealing with patients at their most vulnerable and have to make life and death decisions on a daily basis. They should feel safe in their work environment and more needs to be done to ensure this is the case and that they receive adequate training and support in dealing with intoxicated patients and alcohol related call-outs.’
TeeTeesside University- Study highlights issues alcohol causes for ambulance staff
Public (Web) 07/03/2017
Professor Dorothy Newbury-Birch/ Dr Emma Giles academics from the University's School of Health & Social Care worked on the research with the findings now published in the British Paramedic Journal.