Paramedics in London are increasingly likely to be attacked at work, new figures show.
The number of physical assaults on ambulance staff in the capital rose by 14% last year.
There were 439 such attacks recorded during 2015/16, compared with 385 the previous year, according to statistics published by the London Ambulance Service (LAS) on Wednesday (August 24).
Each year, the LAS says around 50 of its staff are spat upon by members of the public.
The disgusting act has led to the introduction this year of "spit kits", which are used to capture the offenders' DNA for analysis so they can be brought to justice.
Ambulance staff are also frequently subjected to verbal abuse, says the LAS, as are those working in the control room handling emergency calls.
'Attacks on ambulance staff are absolutely unacceptable'
Paul Woodrow, LAS director of operations, said: "It's absolutely unacceptable that our staff are being attacked or verbally abused while trying to do their job and care for patients.
"We will do everything in our power to encourage staff to report these incidents and work with the police and prosecuting authorities to make sure those responsible are dealt with through the courts.
"All of our frontline staff receive training about what to do in a potentially confrontational situation and are equipped with protective clothing to wear.
"They also have access to digital radios so that they can call for help if they need it and there is an emergency button, which automatically requests police help."
Paramedic spat at by patient in Hammersmith
Tim Weekes is no stranger to the abuse directed at paramedics, often from those they are trying to treat.
He was tending to someone in west London three years ago when he and a colleague were spat at by their patient.
"I've been assaulted a few times while working as a paramedic, but one of the most offensive times was when a colleague and I were spat at while trying to treat a patient at Hammersmith," he said.
"We reported the incident and thankfully the person was prosecuted.
"These spit kits are a great idea and make it even easier for the police to prosecute people who treat us this way while we're trying to help patients."