NHS England has announced plans to provide body cameras to NHS ambulance staff in a move to help protect workers and reduce attacks. In total, 3,569 ambulance staff were physically assaulted in the past year, a 30% increase compared to five years ago.
Successful trials of the cameras were rolled out in London and the Northeast, and ten ambulance trusts from across the country will start receiving the cameras this week. NHS England said the programme is three years ahead of schedule, as set out in the NHS Long Term plan.
Ambulance staff will be able to turn the cameras on when members of the public become violent or abusive, the footage from the cameras can be made available to the police if necessary.
Prerana Isaar, Chief People Officer for the NHS, said: “Every member of our dedicated and hardworking NHS staff has the fundamental right to be safe at work and it is our priority to eliminate violence and abuse, which we will not tolerate. As well as reducing the number of incidents towards our staff, these cameras are a vital step towards ensuring our people feel safe too.
“The fact that we are rolling them out to all ten ambulance trusts three years ahead of schedule is testament to our commitment to tackling this problem and is nothing less than our staff deserve.”
After the initial trial stages, it was found that staff felt more comfortable de-escalating situations with the cameras recording and felt safer overall.
Darren Green, clinical service manager at North East Ambulance Service, said: “Staff safety is one of our highest priorities; if we are unable to protect our staff, we are unable to provide a service that’s fit for purpose for the public we serve. The availability of body worn cameras for our staff is something that we have championed for a long time and so we are delighted to have led the trial to help implement them nationally.
“Nobody comes to work to be abused, but especially not by the people they have come to help. Sadly, these cameras are needed now more than ever.”
The launch of the first ever Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard at the beginning of this year, with every NHS trust in the country expected to publish a report before the end of the year on how to prevent violence against ambulance staff.