SOUTH Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is continuing to take a zero tolerance approach to any form of abuse on its staff after having seen an increase in the number of reported assaults throughout the past 12 months.

Between February 1, 2013 and January 31, 2014 there have been 104 reports of physical abuse to front line crews. The type of injuries staff have received range from cuts and bruising and sprains through to the more serious injuries such as dislocations and fractures.

Out of these 104 reported incidents, 73 have been reported to the police and in 22 cases the patient was arrested. In cases that have resulted in a successful prosecution the sanctions have ranged from a suspended sentence, community service orders, restorative orders and fines. There are also a number of more serious cases still awaiting a court date.

Anne Payne, health, safety and security manager with SWASFT, said: “All reports of violence and aggression towards crews are taken seriously. Where there is sufficient evidence the Trust place a warning marker on the patient’s address and sends a letter to the patient regarding their behaviour and the consequences should their behaviour continue.”

Since February 1, 2013, 187 letters have been sent to patients.