The chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) is urging people to respect ambulance staff, amid soaring cases of abuse.

More than 2,300 incidents of abuse against ambulance staff have been recorded in the past 12 months, with 531 physical assaults, 913 incidents of aggression, and 863 cases of verbal abuse. 

In 2020-21, the total number of incidents for the year was 1,247, and in 2016-17 it was under 1,000.

Andrew Benson, a leading operations manager at EEAST, has attended incidents to support staff who have been sexually assaulted by a patient, and staff who have activated their emergency buttons due to aggression, abuse and physical assaults.

One of Andrew’s team sustained severe physical injuries and emotional trauma, resulting in long-term sick leave.

Andrew said: "It's unfortunate that we have seen a shift in the number of attacks on our staff.

"If you call 999 and you need our services, we will be there to care for you. If you abuse our staff, we will seek a prosecution wherever possible and the strongest penalties."

EEAST's chief executive, Tom Abell, said: "Even during times of heightened stress, we ask that you treat our staff with courtesy and respect."