Ambulance service warns on attacks on staff

Paramedic Joe Hunter
Paramedic Joe Hunter
Policing minister Nick Hurd with Havant MP Alan Mak

Havant MP says policing minister is ‘sympathetic’ to Hampshire police’s budget shortfall

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THE ambulance service has warned it will not tolerate abuse against its staff after a paramedic was subjected to a hate-filled verbal assault.

Paramedic Joe Hunter, who works for South Central Ambulance (Scas), was called homophobic names while answering a call to help a drunk woman.

During the incident the woman spouted abuse and even tried to punch the medic who had come to help her.

The tirade came in February this year after the paramedic was called to George Street, Buckland, Portsmouth.

The 22-year-old said: ‘We were called to an unconscious female off New Road, Portsmouth, and found her to be under the influence of alcohol.

‘She requested a lift home before becoming verbally abusive.

‘She shouted abuse, asked if the ambulance service knew we were gay and made abusive comments about homosexuals.

‘She even tried to punch me. When she did that we called the police.

‘It’s the first time I’ve ever been 
abused like that – inside or outside of work.’

Police arrested and charged Deborah Filby, 43, of Vernon Court, London Road, Portsmouth.

She appeared before Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court, and pleaded guilty to one count of intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress, using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour.

She was sentenced to a six-month community order and was told to pay a victim surcharge of £60, and a £40 fine to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Mr Hunter added: ‘This really hurt my feelings.

‘As ambulance staff we do not expect to come to work and receive abuse like this.

‘I really hope the case sets a precedent and clearly demonstrates to members of the public that NHS employees will not tolerate physical or verbal violence of any form.’

In the reporting period for 2012 and 2013, Scas recorded 33 incidents of verbal and physical abuse of staff in Hampshire.

Now the service has issued a stern warning that it will not tolerate abuse against its staff.

Kirsten Willis is chairman of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender network at Scas.

She said: ‘We are glad there was a prosecution as it sends a strong message that we will not tolerate this sort of behaviour on our staff.’