Emergency patients are being left open to abuse when they are at their most vulnerable because of a lack of vetting of ambulance workers, watchdog officials have warned.
One watchdog official warned that abusers would even seek out work as a paramedic because it provided an “attractive environment” for exploitation.
Figures show that dozens of ambulance workers have faced action over sexual assault in the past two years, while paramedics account for one in three cases of tribunal action against care professionals. But one survivors’ group warned the figures were just the “tip of the iceberg”.
Paramedics who have been struck off in the past two years include one who performed a sex act in front of a patient, while another was handed a suspended prison sentence for possessing thousands of images of child pornography.
Helen Vine, special adviser to the Care Quality Commission, told a recent webinar: “There is a small proportion of the population who are seeking to abuse our patients and the ambulance can be an attractive environment for that type of individual. One of the reasons for this is the ambulance sector is predominantly lone working … and ambulance services offer privileged often unsupervised access to patients who can be very vulnerable".
She said the lack of checks meant offenders were able to move between providers, adding: “They test the waters and their behaviours ... if they are challenged, they will move on, however, if they are not challenged then they can hide in plain sight, and they are wearing a trusted uniform and given responsible access to that patient group.
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Source: The Independent, 12 February 2023