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Locked in the back of an ambulance and sexually assaulted: Female paramedics reveal 'toxic culture' of harassment

The first time she was groped at work, Freya says she was 24 years old, a newly qualified paramedic, and was cleaning out the cupboards of the ambulance station crew room.

"He came behind me without me realising. I was cleaning away, and he put his hands around my body and grabbed my breasts," said Freya, which is not her real name.

"Then he said, 'Well, I won't bother doing that again'.

"People just laughed, some didn't even look up from the TV. Like it was nothing, completely normal."

Her story mirrors that of other current and former paramedics who, in several interviews with Sky News, painted a picture of widespread sexual harassment and a toxic culture of misogyny.

The head of the College of Paramedics, Tracy Nicholls, said: "Problems exist in every [NHS] trust, across all four countries in the United Kingdom."

NHS England told Sky News that any form of sexual misconduct was "completely unacceptable" and every trust had committed to an action plan to improve sexual safety.

Laura - not her real name - is currently a paramedic for a different ambulance service.

She describes sexual harassment as "incessant" in the profession. She says students and new recruits are routinely referred to as "fresh meat", subjected to sexual comments, questions and jokes - even in front of patients - and are continually sexualised by some male colleagues.

"It's exhausting," she said. "You come to work wanting to help your patients but every day you're dealing with inappropriate behaviour and sexual comments."

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Source: Sky News, 8 February 2024


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