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

NMC registrations drop as Brexit drives EU staff home

25/04/2018NMC registrations drop as Brexit drives EU staff home

The number of EU nurses and midwives leaving the register increased by 29% last year, new figures have revealed. Figures from the Nursing and Mi... more >
RCN seeks views on mental health parity

25/04/2018RCN seeks views on mental health parity

The Royal College of Nursing is seeking the views of nursing staff working in mental health or delivering mental health services. The RCN wi... more >
NHS ‘on the cusp’ of great tech opportunity

24/04/2018NHS ‘on the cusp’ of great tech opportunity

The NHS is “on the cusp of a great opportunity” to accelerate the contributions of community nurses through the use of technology, acco... 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

Hard to be optimistic

Hard to be optimistic

Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, warns that we must be realistic about the very real effects of continued underfunding across the health service. It’s now bey... more > more last word articles >
681 149x260 NHE Subscribe button

the scalpel's daily blog

NHS long-term funding: what’s in store?

10/04/2018NHS long-term funding: what’s in store?

Anita Charlesworth, director of research and economics at the Health Foundation, discusses Theresa May’s recent announcements on long-term NHS funding and considers the options available. The prime minister’s appearance in front of the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons last month has caused quite a stir in the health world and no doubt a fair amount of angst in the Treasury. This is not the first time a prime ministe... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Building a solid evidence base

18/04/2018Building a solid evidence base

Danielle Doyle of THIS Institute, co-created by the University of Cambridge and the Health Foundation, says the new organisation will dare to try... more >
Forensics v fraud

18/04/2018Forensics v fraud

Gareth Ballance, technical lead of the Forensic Computing Unit (FCU), gives a snapshot of a day in the life working for the NHS Counter Fraud Aut... more >
A personal view of NAPP’s future strategy

18/04/2018A personal view of NAPP’s future strategy

Dr Patricia Wilkie, president of the National Association for Patient Participation (N.A.P.P.), outlines her personal ambitions for the coming ye... more >
It’s all about quality data

18/04/2018It’s all about quality data

Steve Graham, eProcurement/Scan4Safety lead at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), and Gillian Fox, head of the eProcurement Program... more >
Setting the reform agenda

18/04/2018Setting the reform agenda

In 2017, the National Audit Office (NAO) said the government needs to take a stronger and more integrated approach to rein in the cost of clinica... more >

interviews

Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

24/01/2018Duncan Selbie: A step on the journey to population health

The NHS plays a part in the country’s wellness – but it’s far from being all that matters. Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Pu... more >
Cutting through the fake news

22/11/2017Cutting through the fake news

In an era of so-called ‘fake news’ growing alongside a renewed focus on reducing stigma around mental health, Paul Farmer, chief exec... more >
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 >