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Scottish Ambulance address blacklist criticised

Picture:  Robert Perry

Picture: Robert Perry

A “shocking” 1,323 addresses are classed as being risky for ambulances to attend because of violent incidents or threatening behaviour, Labour said.

Health spokesman Neil Findlay said these locations had all been flagged by the Scottish Ambulance Service as being “risky for ambulance crews to attend”.

A spokesman for the service said for calls to these addresses, ambulance dispatch staff can request the police attend to give additional support.

But Mr Findlay is calling on ambulance bosses to ensure there are adequate strategies in place to deal with the problem, by, for example, having public education campaigns to remind people of the vital role ambulance crews and other emergency services play.

The Labour MSP made the call after information released to Labour using Freedom of Information legislation showed how many addresses had been flagged up for previous violent or threatening behaviour towards ambulance staff.

The largest number of addresses was in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, where 345 locations had been flagged, with a further 313 locations identified in the NHS Lothian area and 150 in the Lanarkshire health board region.

Mr Findlay said: “It’s quite shocking that so many addresses across Scotland have been identified as being risky for ambulance crews to attend. Public service workers are in need of our thanks not aggression.

“It’s hard enough working in the ambulance service without experiencing hostility from the public they serve, this makes an already difficult job even harder.

“The Scottish Ambulance Service needs to ensure that there are adequate strategies in place to deal with this problem; for example, public education campaigns which remind people of the vital role played by emergency workers and the need to support, not harass and hassle them.”

Safety

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service said: “The safety of ambulance staff is paramount, which is why the service takes appropriate measures to protect them.

“All crews are given training in management of aggression and how to undertake a full risk assessment on arrival at scene to establish if there is any potential danger.

“If any ambulance crew feels that their safety may be compromised, they are instructed to hold nearby the scene and await support from the police, or additional ambulance crews.

“As a further protective measure, addresses where there have been previous incidents of violence or threatening behaviour towards staff are flagged in control rooms.

“This means that if a 999 call comes in from a flagged address, dispatch staff can request additional police support.

“Every year, ambulance crews report incidents of physical assault, ranging from pushing and punching to spitting and attack with a variety of weapons.

“They deserve more respect for their dedication to patient care, often provided in the most challenging of situations. In most of these incidents alcohol is a key factor in the aggressive behaviour of patients.”

 

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