New figures released this week reveal the shocking rise in physical assaults suffered by the region’s ambulance service.

According to the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, 195 of its staff were assaulted by members of the public during the last year, compared to 188 last year, with the highest regional figure in Cambridgeshire (36).

Criminal sanctions were brought against 90 people who assaulted ambulance staff in the Eastern region and these included incidents where staff were spat at and bitten.

A Cambridgeshire paramedic who was bitten on the arm by a drunk patient last November, who was sentenced to an 18-month community order, said: “I have had verbal abuse before, but have never been physically attacked before doing my job.

“It affected me physically and emotionally and I am still physically scarred. After it happened, I was quite worried to go out to similar patients and I was also getting anxious about patients who present as more challenging, such as those with dementia, who have no control over what they are doing.”

Ipswich paramedic Nicholas Williams, who was spat at by a patient who ended up being arrested, said: “From time to time you get verbal abuse, but spitting is the most vile action. We are dealing with people with complex social needs, but there is no excuse for something like this,” he said.

His attacker was ordered to pay £50 compensation and given a community sentence.

Robert Morton, chief executive of the EEAST, said: “The number of physical assaults is a very small percentage of the calls our staff attend. However, violence can have a big impact on our staff who are trying to save lives and provide the best possible care.

“It is unacceptable that our staff experience abuse when they are trying to do their job and it won't be tolerated. We will seek to prosecute those who assault or abuse our dedicated staff.”