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‘I will find you and kill you’ - Control room staff at region’s ambulance service suffer abuse from callers every day

PUBLISHED: 12:06 07 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:06 07 December 2017

The ambulance control room in Hellesdon.
 Senior control room manager Paul Vinters talks to Chief Executive Robert Morton.
 Picture: Sonya Duncan

The ambulance control room in Hellesdon. Senior control room manager Paul Vinters talks to Chief Executive Robert Morton. Picture: Sonya Duncan

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Emergency call handlers and control room staff at the region’s ambulance service are being abused nearly every day by people they are trying to help.

Staff have been sharing their stories of the unacceptable verbal abuse they receive.

Some have talked about losing sleep over calls, and one worker said they had been “reduced to tears by the shear venom that some callers can vent at me.”

Another said they were threatened by a caller who said “I will find you and kill you”, and another caller screamed at a member of staff calling her “uncaring, nasty and useless”.

A survey of East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) staff revealed that 78pc received verbal abuse every shift or regularly.

The comments are being released as part of the service’s Don’t Choose to Abuse campaign.

Gary Morgan, deputy director for emergency operations centres (EOC) at EEAST, said: “It is unacceptable they experience abuse from callers when they are trying to do their best for patients.

“Our emergency call handlers help save lives and are a vital part of the ambulance service.

“They give CPR instructions when a patient is not breathing and in cardiac arrest, they help with the birth of babies and are a reassuring voice when a vulnerable patient is having a crisis.”

Jenny Coventry, who has worked in EOC for 13 years, said she dealt with abuse from callers nearly every working day.

She added: “What is most upsetting is where the abuse appears to be unfounded, often from drunken callers or callers under the influence of other substances. The abuse becomes personal. In some instances threats of violence have been made, for example, ‘I’m going to track you down’.

“In other cases it is nearly impossible to help the patient as there is a prolonged stream of abuse and any attempts to calm the caller seem to fuel the fire.”

Shelley Moore, a call handler for two years, said abuse can have a have a physical effect on staff.

She added: “It’s horrible, and as an emergency service we should not have to tolerate it. We must not tolerate it.”

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