A SURGE in attacks against emergency service staff will be stamped out thanks to a new ‘zero-tolerance’ approach - after leaders in Barnsley backed a South Yorkshire Police-run scheme to protect frontline workers.

Incidents have increased in recent months, with NHS staff in particular recording a significant increase in both physical and verbal abuse in Barnsley Hospital, GP practices, ambulances and pharmacies.

There have been more than 100 assaults on non-police emergency workers since 2020, new figures show.

In 2020 police forces began to record a new category of crime - assaults without injury on emergency workers.

Latest Home Office crime figures show 101 assaults against emergency workers have been recorded locally between March 2020 and the end of 2022.

Of these assaults, 25 took place in 2022, and 44 the year before, with the remainder taking place from early 2020 onwards.

The offence applies to attacks on ‘blue light’ workers, paramedics and fire fighters, along with many others, including prison officers, NHS workers, and St John’s Ambulance volunteers - but does not include police officers, who are covered by a different crime code.

Many healthcare settings already operate a zero-tolerance approach towards abusive behaviour and will exercise their right to refuse to see or treat people who are persistently aggressive or abusive.

However, those who have been more tolerant will now adopt the same tactics - after health bosses claimed they have seen people leave their roles due to the abuse they have been subjected to.

NHS medical director Dr Zak McMurray said: “Unfortunately NHS staff are working in a difficult environment where demand for health services is very high.

“People get frustrated if they can’t get an appointment and that sometimes leads to anger and unacceptable treatment of the very people who are trying to help them.

“It’s dreadful to see the effect that such bad behaviour can have on staff.

“Receptionists, nurses, GPs and chemists are among those who have experienced some awful comments and threats, whether that’s face-to-face, over the phone or on social media.

“This constant drip feed of negative experiences can sadly result in good people leaving their jobs from the stress it is causing.”

NHS South Yorkshire conducted a survey of primary care staff and found that 95 per cent had experienced verbal abuse, 52 per cent had experienced intimidation, 34 per cent had experienced threats of violence and 16 per cent had experienced violent behaviour.

They say that reports of this type of behaviour have also increased since the pandemic.

Ambulance workers are also frequent victims of assault - the survey found 45 per cent of paramedics had experienced violence from patients or the general public.

Dr McMurray added: “The vast majority of the public are very respectful and supportive of our staff and we thank them for that.

“Our relationships with our patients and the public are based on mutual respect and trust and any decision to remove someone from a practice list would be an exceptional and rare event and only taken as a last resort.

“However, our colleagues should never be fearful or anxious about coming to work.

“Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect and free from harassment, violence, and abuse which is why we’re sending out a clear message that we will not tolerate any abuse or violence and will take appropriate action to ensure our staff are safe.

“Our staff continue to go above and beyond to provide the best care possible for our patients and deserve to feel safe when they come to work.”