Guys and St Thomas’s are issuing frontline security workers with body cameras after a shocking increase in both the scale and seriousness of assaults on members of their workforce over the past year. Statistics have backed up what hospital staff have experienced on the ground: 850 assaults were recorded last year across the Trust. This is 27 per cent up on the previous year. Over the last six months, there were 75 arrests, which was a huge increase from just 30 during the same period last year. Twenty-six patients were excluded from the Trust, compared with just seven last year.
The new initiative is a swift and proactive response to a steeply escalating levels of violence against NHS staff. Nurses are usually the targets, although doctors, healthcare assistants and security staff have also been assaulted. Dame Eileen Sills, the Trust’s chief nurse, spoke out against the rise in violent incidents, explaining that the introduction of body worn cameras will deter incidents like these from occurring. See The Standard, for more details.
It is hoped that the presence of cameras will prevent people from acting in an abusive manner for fear of being convicted. The Metropolitan police have recently adopted the use of body worn cameras for similar reasons. Security staff at NHS Trusts in Coventry and Warwickshire have been wearing cameras since March, and the same initiative has been rolled out in Scunthorpe and Grimsby.
Security staff who already wear the gear have commented that when guards mention they are wearing a camera, abusers usually back down and the situation is de- escalated. In the few instances where they did not, the footage was used to convict them. There is legislation regarding how and when body cameras can be used and how footage can be used to make a conviction in an instance of assault. See http://www.pinnacleresponse.com/body-cameras-and-the-law/ for a detailed explanation of the law.
The campaign to end violence against NHS staff is not restricted to the use of body cameras. Staff are to be trained in conflict resolution, and lone workers like health visitors will receive specialist training from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which conducts personal safely training courses in schools, workplaces and charities with the aim of reducing the levels of violence and aggression in society.