Ambulance workers must be treated with respect

Clive Smith says he would not like to arm wrestle athlete Caster Semenya 		Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

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They go into the medical profession because they care and want to help people.

So imagine how disillusioned ambulance paramedics must be when they find themselves being abused in the course of their work.

One case is too many. But sadly, it happens all too often.

In the reporting period for 2012 and 2013, South Central Ambulance Service recorded 33 incidents of verbal and physical abuse of its staff in the county.

Today we describe how paramedic Joe Hunter answered a call to help a drunk woman in Buckland, Portsmouth only to end up the victim of a nasty, hate-filled verbal assault.

The woman had the cheek to ask for a lift home from the ambulance crew before launching into a homophobic tirade.

But she wasn’t finished. For good measure, she then tried to punch Mr Hunter.

At that point, he called the police.

It was the right thing to do because nobody should have to put up with that kind of treatment, particularly as he was trying his best to assist the woman at the time.

Officers then arrested and charged Deborah Filby.

She ended up being sentenced to a six-month community order, plus she had to pay a victim surcharge of £60 and a £40 fine.

Quite right too.

Ambulance workers should be treated with respect at all times and deserve protection from people who have had too much to drink.

We agree wholeheartedly with the ambulance service’s stance on this matter.

It says it will not tolerate any abuse of its staff – and why should it?

They and all other NHS workers have every right to expect that their employer will stand up for them.

We also praise the police and the legal system for ensuring Ms Filby ended up being held accountable for her actions.

Because prosecutions play an important part in re-inforcing the message that such behaviour is totally unacceptable.