IT is, of course, appalling and lamentable that health workers in the community are coming under increasing attack from people they are trying to help.

But in the face of the grim reality of escalating attacks -- physical and verbal -- against ambulance crews and other health staff almost doubling in Lancashire in the past year, it is right for their employers to leap to their defence with every means available.

And more so, when the levels of assaults, abuse and threatening behaviour against them mean that ambulance workers, district nurses, health visitors and support staff for the homeless are now as likely to be attacked in East Lancashire as they are in big cities like Manchester or Liverpool.

In view of this depressing development and the dangers to which health workers are exposed, it is vital that the courts curb the trend by giving offenders the most severe punishments. But equally vital is that lone workers faced with this menace also have on-the-spot support and immediate aid when trouble is threatened.

And a pioneering development being piloted by the Lancashire Ambulance Service NHS Trust in a three-month experiment promises to deliver significant help and protection -- via a revolutionary new mobile phone staff are being issued with.

The phones enable control room staff to track the location of those carrying them to within five metres and, at the press of a button, employees can send an instant text message alerting controllers if they are in any danger -- enabling police to dash to their precise location.

It is a technological development that seems full of positive promise, not just for health workers at risk, but for those in many other situations -- and one that deserves to succeed if people working for the good of the community can do so without fear.