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

Workforce strategy: DH has ‘turned on all the taps’, but can still do more

13/12/2017Workforce strategy: DH has ‘turned on all the taps’, but can still do more

Health Education England (HEE) has released a draft of its 10-year workforce strategy which is looking to create a long-term staffing p... more >
London trust fined after worker is killed by liquid nitrogen

13/12/2017London trust fined after worker is killed by liquid nitrogen

The death of a worker who was asphyxiated by liquid nitrogen in London in 2011 could have been prevented, says the Health and Safety Executive (H... more >
Access to treatments could reduce post-Brexit

13/12/2017Access to treatments could reduce post-Brexit

UK patients are at risk of missing out on new treatments after Brexit if a deal is not struck, experts have warned. Speaking at a Health Com... 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

Ten lessons to support new care models locally

29/11/2017Ten lessons to support new care models locally

Anna Starling, policy fellow at the Health Foundation, offers the top 10 lessons for local leaders seeking to make systematic improvements across services, all based on first-hand accounts from vanguard officials. Redesigning health and social care services across traditional boundaries is not easy. Making change in complex environments, with differing professional viewpoints and varying organisational priorities while getting on with t... more >
read more blog posts from 'the scalpel' >

comment

Strategic investment planning

13/12/2017Strategic investment planning

Paul Turton, head of solutions development at NHS Supply Chain, looks at how trusts can unlock investment in medical equipment to alleviate finan... more >
A fight worth fighting

13/12/2017A fight worth fighting

Professor Wendy Burn, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych), laments the current lack of public understanding about severe me... more >
Developing a wellness workforce

13/12/2017Developing a wellness workforce

The entire health and care sector needs to come together to prepare for a shift towards health creation, writes Merron Simpson, chief executive o... more >
The future of the nursing workforce: what next?

13/12/2017The future of the nursing workforce: what next?

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), argues that the evidence of the importance of prioriti... more >
Strategic commissioning: what the future holds

13/12/2017Strategic commissioning: what the future holds

Julie Wood, chief executive of NHS Clinical Commissioners, looks at how the clinical commissioning landscape will change in the future after havi... more >

interviews

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 >
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 >