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Report reveals burden alcohol places on North East ambulance staff

The report, published today by Balance, the North East Alcohol Office, also found that 2 in 5 paramedics surveyed have been subjected to alcohol-fuelled sexual assaults or harassment during their work.

Balance partnered with the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) to carry out a survey of more than 350 paramedics.

The results also revealed:

  • 3 in 5 paramedics say they shouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of alcohol misuse.
  • More than 9 in 10 NEAS paramedics feel that dealing with alcohol-related callouts places an unnecessary burden on their time and resources.
  • Two-thirds of paramedics said alcohol-related incidences accounted for at least half of their workload during weekend evenings.
  • Two-thirds of paramedics stated that they felt at risk of physical assault when working in the night time economy.
  • 9 in 10 have been threatened by an intoxicated person at least once and almost half six or more times (illustrated).
  • Two-thirds of paramedics stated that in excess of 75% of callouts for assault were alcohol-related.

Alcohol misuse in the North East puts a huge financial strain on our frontline services, with an estimated cost to the region’s NHS of £242 million in 2013/14.

Off the back of this report Balance is calling for a range of targeted, evidence-based measures - such as increasing the price of the cheapest, strongest alcohol products - to make alcohol less affordable, available and less widely promoted.

Colin Shevills, Director of Balance, said: "It’s outrageous that paramedics don’t feel safe in their working environment as a result of other people’s alcohol misuse. These are people who are there to help us when we need it most, yet they are living in fear of physical and verbal abuse on a daily basis. How many of us would expect to work like this?

"It’s clear from this report that our paramedics are personally paying the price for the alcohol misuse of others. This is an unnecessary burden on time and resource and it is completely unsustainable.

"Our relationship with alcohol is out of control. We need to bring it under control by making alcohol less affordable, available and less widely promoted. We need the Government to support a range of targeted, evidence-based measures such as increasing the price of the cheapest, strongest alcohol products, which has been shown to save lives, reduce hospital admissions, cut crime and lessen the financial burden alcohol places on frontline services."

Find out more about Balance and paramedic report 'Paying the Price' at www.facebook.com/balance.northeast and on Twitter @BalanceNE with the hashtag #payingtheprice