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Body cameras aim to curb rise in attacks on nurses and other frontline staff

Security staff at a major London hospital trust are being given body cameras after attacks on nurses and other frontline workers rose by almost one third in the past year. 

Security staff at a major London hospital trust are being given body cameras after attacks on nurses and other frontline workers rose by almost one third in the past year

The 6-month trial at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust comes as the trust launches its Keep Our Staff Safe campaign to reduce violent and abusive behaviour by patients and visitors, and increase staff awareness of the support available to them.

From April to September 2016, there was a 27% rise in recorded incidents – 850, compared to 620 in the same period last year.

Other statistics show that in the 6 months from April to September 2016:

  • 75 arrests were made – up from 30 in the same period last year.
  • 26 patients have been excluded from the trust which means they will only be provided with emergency treatment – up from seven in the same period last year.
  • 130 behaviour contracts have been issued – these explain why that person’s behaviour was unacceptable and that any repeat will mean they are excluded from the trust – up from 70 in the same period last year.

Staff training

Trust chief nurse Dame Eileen Sills said the campaign, which is backed by the Metropolitan Police, will also include staff training on identifying patients at risk of developing challenging behaviour for clinical reasons, so appropriate support and interventions can be given to prevent them from harming themselves or others.

'I absolutely understand that coming to hospital can be a very stressful experience and we want to ensure all our patients receive the right care delivered safely, with kindness,' Dame Eileen said.

'But at times our staff and patients have felt threatened and intimidated by a small number of patients and visitors, and we want to send a clear message to people that our staff are here for them. Please let them do their jobs safely.

'Any unprovoked violence and aggression towards staff is unacceptable. If people do abuse our staff we will take robust action and pursue them through the courts if necessary.'

Criminal conviction

The trust will now issue body cameras to some of its security staff as part of the trial. Footage from the cameras can be used in court to help secure a criminal conviction.

Superintendent Roy Smith said that body cameras act as a deterrent and the images captured provide good evidence to help bring offenders to justice,

'We take assaults on NHS staff very seriously,' he added.

'I would hope if the pilot here is successful it is something that other NHS trusts would look to roll out across London.'

Campaign objectives

The Keep Our Staff Safe campaign also includes:

  • Posters in hospitals and community sites using anonymised real stories of staff who have been attacked or abused.
  • An updated policy on managing challenging behaviour by patients and visitors, and a new training film for staff.
  •  New training courses in conflict resolution.
  • Working with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust on training for specifically for staff based in the community, such as health visitors.

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