A PARAMEDIC was sexually assaulted by a man as she treated him for a head injury in the back of an ambulance.

Keith Baines groped the woman, then sat back smiling and told her she looked like the computer game character, Lara Croft.

Baines, aged 46, of Moss Bank Way, Bolton, was jailed for four months when he pleaded guilty at Bolton Magistrates' Court.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders' Register for seven years.

The sentence was welcomed last night by Delwyn Wray, the North-west Ambulance Service's area director for Greater Manchester.

He said: "This was an appalling assault on a member of our staff who was only trying to do her job.

"As you might expect, she found the incident to be very traumatic."

The court heard that Baines fell over in a toilet at the Hope and Anchor pub in Chorley Old Road on Boxing Day and cut his head.

An ambulance was called and, as the woman paramedic treated him, he put his arm around her and was warned about his behaviour.

He then sexually assaulted her, the magistrates were told.

The court heard that Baines had a history of violence and police went to the pub along with the ambulance, but the assault was not reported until the next day.

He was arrested at his home on Friday, December 28, at his home.

Baines told police that he remembered drinking in the pub, falling over, and the ambulance being called, but not the offence.

Mr Wray said: "Our ambulance crews face verbal and physical abuse in the course of their work on an almost daily basis, but thankfully incidents as extreme as this are very few and far between.

"We take all assaults of our staff very seriously and will push for all offenders to face the consequences of their actions and to be brought to justice.

"We are very pleased that Keith Baines has received a four month custodial sentence."

Details of the case emerged as a national report revealed that one in three doctors have been physically or verbally attacked in the last year.

A total of 591 doctors from England, Scotland and Wales responded to the British Medical Association's (BMA) survey on violence in the workplace in the last year.

Most doctors who were attacked did not tell the authorities.

A spokesman for the NHS Security Management Service said: "Violence and abuse against doctors is unacceptable and the NHS Security Management Servicecontinues to work with the BMA to tackle this problem.

"But more needs to be done to tackle violence and we would urge doctors to report all incidents to the local security management specialist at their health body and to the police."