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The Prince of Wales has condemned the “unacceptable” violence and personal abuse faced by NHS frontline staff.
The Prince asked to speak to some of the paramedics and ambulance crew on the receiving end of the attacks during a visit to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.
“To me it’s unreal, unacceptable,” he said. “Why attack the people who are trying to look after you?”
NHS England data shows that 3,569 ambulance staff reported being assaulted in 2020/21 - a 32 per cent rise from five years previously.
Antony Tiernan, of the London Ambulance Service, said there had been 529 violent incidents involving staff and volunteers between April 2020 and January this year.
“Those attacks include kicking, punching, head-butting, biting and spitting and there have also been 31 assaults with weapons,” he said.
“In addition, there have been 834 incidents of verbal abuse and threats.”
Prince's disbelief at rising violence
The Prince expressed shock after speaking to the NHS workers, saying: “You can’t believe it, can you?
“When I think of what it has been like for so long, and how many people have been lucky enough to have wonderful paramedics and ambulance staff coming to their rescue.
“But now you find the situation rising – violence, attacks, verbal attacks, racial abuse and everything else.”
The heir to the throne was joined by Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, at the hospital, where he thanked staff for their service during the Covid-19 crisis and learnt how his Prince’s Trust had helped young people find employment within the NHS.
He personally asked to speak to six paramedics and ambulance crew after learning about the statistics on abuse.
A Clarence House spokesperson said: “The Prince of Wales was shocked to hear that those who have done so much for all of us in this pandemic are the victims of abuse and violence from a small minority. NHS frontline staff and volunteers deserve our support, thanks and respect for the important work that they do.”
Earlier this month, it was announced that paramedics in England were to be fitted with body cameras in a bid to prevent thousands of attacks each year. As NHS workers risked their lives to help the country during the coronavirus pandemic, they were being attacked when attending emergency call-outs.