UK: Ambulance services have ‘blacklisted’ some households because their inhabitants pose a danger to paramedics
United Kingdom – Ambulance services have ‘blacklisted’ certain households and paramedics are told to wait outside until police turn-up if they fear they will be attacked. The London Ambulance Service has a register of 226 addresses where staff are believed to be at risk of physical violence while the North East has a list of 236 properties. Greater Manchester Ambulance service confirmed it had a similar register – although it couldn’t confirm numbers – and West Midlands said there were some cases where police back-up would be sent.
Campaigners said the inhabitants only had themselves to blame if their health deteriorated while ambulances waited outside. But there are concerns that children and other innocent patients living at the addresses who needed urgent medical help could be put at risk. John Lister, of London Health Emergency, which campaigns against hospital closure and for improved NHS care said: ‘I don’t think it’s fair for people to abuse ambulance workers. ‘If there is a record of that I don’t see any reason not to take it seriously. ‘There is a risk that patient’s care is being affected by the people in the building, but then why should we expect ambulance staff to put themselves at risk? ‘If there are 200 addresses in London then it doesn’t sound like it is a widespread problem. ‘The ambulance staff take a lot of chances for us generally and I don’t see any reason not to believe them if they say there is a problem.’
Figures obtained from a Freedom of Information request showed that London Ambulance Service have 226 addresses on their ‘at risk’ register of which 32 are in Leytonstone, East London. The North East Ambulance Service has previously said it has 236 homes on a similar list where ambulances will not attend without police back-up.
Athar Khan, operations manager at the London Ambulance Service , said: ‘It alerts the staff before they get to the address of the risk factors and actions they might need to take. ‘We take things into consideration. The address, the name of the individual and the physical location. ‘The diagnosis given in terms of illness and the access to that property whether we can get in quickly and get out quickly.’ Figures show that around 163 staff across the NHS are attacked by patients or relatives every day. There are now around 60,000 assaults a day, a three per cent increase on the previous 12 months.
Paramedic Leo Nakhimoff was hit in the head and arm with a fence panel, after he and two colleagues went to treat a drunk patient who had collapsed in a relative’s garden, in January last year. He said police officers who were called to help were attacked and injured, along with another paramedic. ‘When you’re going about your daily job treating patients you don’t expect to get attacked with a fence post – it was completely unprovoked.’ He said. It affected me quite badly at the time and I questioned whether I wanted to continue working as a paramedic. It’s now at the back of my mind when I get called to similar incidents. ‘At the end of the day, we’re here to help people and we don’t want to be in fear of being attacked.’