Health Service Focus

04.04.17

How effective is your surveillance?

Source: NHE Mar/Apr 17

The surveillance camera commissioner, Tony Porter, reflects on how complying with his code could help trusts save money and improve the efficiency of their surveillance activity.

Early in the year, Home Office minister Brandon Lewis rejected the surveillance camera commissioner’s recommendation that NHS trusts should be regulated by his office in their use of security cameras, as “we had not exhausted the possibilities of increasing voluntary compliance”. 

In a letter to the government, the commissioner, Tony Porter, reflected that over the last three years his office had worked with NHS Protect to increase compliance with the code. 

He added that on two occasions NHS Protect had put forward proposals to amend its standards to include the requirement, at the very least, to require each body to complete the self-assessment tool and to derive an action plan for improvement based on the findings. But on both occasions this was rejected “on the grounds that NHS Protect could not enforce compliance with guidance that was not mandatory”. 

“Despite our best attempts, voluntary adoption has not worked here and with the changing remit of NHS Protect, it will be difficult without government intervention,” he concluded. 

Discussing the issue with NHE, Porter said in the absence of any mandate to adopt the code, which requires public bodies, such as local authorities and police services, to demonstrate a “pressing need” for the use of surveillance cameras, he would work “with government to look at how we can encourage NHS trusts and hospitals to voluntarily adopt the surveillance camera code of practice”. 

Reflecting on the size of the NHS estate, Porter stated that there is a lot of security cameras in use and the area is becoming even more complex with increasing patient numbers. 

“The problem that all the NHS has is the ability to measure whether it [surveillance] is any good or not,” he said. “When you multiply the expense right across the piece, it becomes quite a serious issue. The NHS is cash-strapped, as we all know, and there is a strong argument to say, ‘well, in this one area there is a balance between privacy and security – and cost must also have a place’.” 

Commenting on his past experience with local authorities and compliance with his code, Porter said “surveillance, frankly, has been useless”.

“They [councils] have been required to understand and reconfigure what that looks like, and I think the NHS could learn from that approach,” he added. “For instance, all trusts or organisations within the NHS should commission what we call a self-assessment of their own kit. This doesn’t require the use of expensive consultants. 

“The person responsible should be conducting a self-assessment, then publicising on the website how effective the surveillance is. It is a fantastic way of shining a light on a dark space. What it does, and we found this from many local authorities who have used it, is that it has drawn their attention to a whole number of things. Firstly, they might have the wrong surveillance. Secondly, they are spending money on kit that they could actually get rid of. And thirdly, that the balance between privacy and security hasn’t been met. 

“We would argue that if they followed my code of practice, not only would there be increased transparency and uplift in efficiency, but actually they would comply with the Data Protection Act – which is a bare minimum for anyone gathering data.” 

Porter added that when he submitted last year’s annual report to government, he saw an uplift in compliance to his code from 2% to 85% of all local authorities in England and Wales. 

He stated that this came out of discussions with CEOs and council engagement, and the potential to, effectively, name and shame. “With the NHS, it is something I will consider,” said Porter. “While they are not statutorily compelled, I do think there is a public interest argument to see whether they follow the best standards.” 

Earlier this year, Barnsley Hospital NHS FT became the first trust to achieve the first stage accreditation from the surveillance camera commissioner’s office and will be applying for full certification during 2017. 

“The independent assessment that underpins our certification provides the assurance that we balance how we site and use our cameras is in accordance with the government’s code of practice and 12 guiding principles,” explained Mike Lees, trust head of business security, adding that voluntarily submitting for assessment is a great step towards displaying openness and transparency of how it uses its 135 cameras. 

Porter stated that by complying with the 12 guiding principles in the code, and attaining the certification mark, Barnsley has demonstrated that they use “surveillance cameras effectively, efficiently and transparently”. 

“The advantages could be significant cost-cutting not just within the trust, but right across the UK,” he said. “All we are asking for is considered best practice, to reduce costs and raise standards. One local authority reduced costs by just under a third of a million, and cameras by 30%. You don’t have to be Einstein to work out what that might look like across the broad swathe of NHS estates that have security.” 

As NHE went to press, Porter was due to launch the National Surveillance Camera Strategy for England and Wales, which aims to provide direction and leadership in the surveillance camera community and enable system operators to understand best practice and their legal obligations.

For more information

W: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/surveillance-camera-commissioner

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

national health executive tv

more videos >

latest healthcare news

Our Health Heroes: NHS awards ceremony unveils shortlist

18/10/2017Our Health Heroes: NHS awards ceremony unveils shortlist

With the NHS facing unprecedented demand and difficult working conditions, it’s incredible that the workforce across the country still deli... more >
RCGP launches overseas doctors guide to entice foreign practitioners

18/10/2017RCGP launches overseas doctors guide to entice foreign practitioners

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has launched a guide for foreign doctors coming to Britain. The document – launched ... more >
Data scandal worsens as NHS loses further 162,000 key patient files

18/10/2017Data scandal worsens as NHS loses further 162,000 key patient files

Revelations that the NHS lost more than half a million patient files have been deepened with the reveal of a further 162,000 pieces of paperwork ... more >

editor's comment

25/09/2017A hotbed of innovation

This edition of NHE comes hot on the heels of this year’s NHS Expo which, once again, proved to be a huge success at Manchester Central. A number of announcements were made during the event, with the health secretary naming the second wave of NHS digital pioneers, or ‘fast followers’, which follow the initial global digital e... read more >

last word

The Refugee Doctor Initiative

The Refugee Doctor Initiative

Terry John, co-chair of the BMA & BDA Refugee Doctors and Dentists Liaison Group and chair of the union’s international committee, talks about a brilliant initiative that is proving mut... more > more last word articles >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

Our Health Heroes: NHS awards ceremony unveils shortlist

18/10/2017Our Health Heroes: NHS awards ceremony unveils shortlist

With the NHS facing unprecedented demand and difficult working conditions, it’s incredible that the workforce across the country still delivers great care to patients every single day. Requiring care is never a pleasant experience, but having a brilliant member of staff look after can make a huge difference to a quick recovery. For that reason, it’s important to recognise the support staff who work so hard to give patients p... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Make doing the right thing easy

11/10/2017Make doing the right thing easy

Kay Currie, professor of Nursing & Applied Healthcare Research, ‘Safeguarding Health through Infection Prevention’ (SHIP) researc... more >
STAR: an innovative app for speech therapy

11/10/2017STAR: an innovative app for speech therapy

Dr Stuart Cunningham, a senior lecturer in Human Communication Sciences at the University of Sheffield, on a new app set to support speech and la... more >
The value of health creation

11/10/2017The value of health creation

Dr Brian Fisher, vice chair of the New NHS Alliance, outlines the many benefits of investing in health creation. We live in one of the riche... more >
Developing a new type of think tank

11/10/2017Developing a new type of think tank

James Roach of the National Collaborative Group explains how the new and unique think tank is moving from rhetoric to action in order to help del... more >
A digital framework that works for the NHS

09/10/2017A digital framework that works for the NHS

In response to the ever-increasing opportunities to use innovative digital technology to carry out essential admin tasks, NHS Shared Business Ser... more >

interviews

Tackling infection prevention locally

04/10/2017Tackling infection prevention locally

Dr Emma Burnett, a lecturer and researcher in infection prevention at the University of Dundee’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a boar... more >
Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

02/10/2017Scan4Safety: benefits across the whole supply chain

NHE interviews Gillian Fox, head of eProcurement (Scan4Safety) programme at NHS Supply Chain. How has the Scan4Safety initiative evolved sin... more >
Simon Stevens: A hunger for innovation

25/09/2017Simon Stevens: A hunger for innovation

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, knows that the health service is already a world leader when it comes to medical advances – ... more >
Improving care at the touch of a screen

08/08/2017Improving care at the touch of a screen

When it comes to dementia, having a calm and safe environment can have a substantial impact on a patient’s quality of life. NHE’s Jos... more >
A new approach to talent management

25/07/2017A new approach to talent management

Martin Hancock, national lead for talent management at NHS Leadership Academy, and Gill Rooke, the organisation’s senior operations manager... more >