Health Service Focus

08.08.17

Securing the health service with openness and transparency

Source: NHE Jul/Aug 2017

Mike Lees, head of business security at Barnsley Hospital NHS FT, talks to NHE about the organisation’s innovative approach to securing the trust’s estate.

From left to right: Lisa Corbridge, Trust LSMS; Mike Lees, head of business security; Dean Ellis, security site manager; and Peyton Needle, surveillance camera administrator

Barnsley Hospital NHS FT is a busy and large piece of real estate and has some 5,000 patients and visitors passing through its doors on a daily basis.

It is no different to many district hospitals in having a large mix of medical specialities, hectic theatre areas, wards with vulnerable, young and elderly patients, alongside a public mortuary and nuclear medicine department. Fold into this mix a limited budget with the need for flexible access for relatives, visitors, response teams, clinical staff, and many professional security managers would consider this a nightmare scenario. 

Over the last four years the hospital has adopted an incremental improvement strategy to security management, accepting valuable input from the local counter security management specialists and police crime reduction officer. The trust’s six-monthly security surveys are multiagency, layered and qualitatively-driven, with the Business Security Unit working innovatively to squeeze out every benefit from a financial background of harsh competing priorities. 

Over the past 12 months, the hospital has been the first to attain accreditation by the National Counter Terrorist Security Office for industry self-delivery of ‘Project Griffin’, and one of few to introduce a security officer training course for the use of body-worn video incorporating an NHS ethics programme into any activation of this equipment. The trust contracts its operational security to G4S Secure Solutions and acknowledges their support in being able to introduce body-worn video cameras and the continuing challenges this throws up in an acute hospital setting. The trust is also the only NHS body to be represented within the Security Institute and has a Chartered Security Professional on its staff. It is currently scoping the use of drones on site to support a number of operational aspects, two of these being security management and absconding or missing patients. 

To balance the daily use of surveillance technology, the trust understands there is a driving need to provide assurance to staff, patients, visitors and contractors that the cameras are being used in a legal, responsible and proportionate manner. The Business Security Unit acknowledged that a tangible, credible, indelible watermark was required that no amount of verbal or written reassurance or printed privacy notices could provide. 

Mike Lees, head of business security at the trust, said: “There will always be the cynics who believe, no matter what, that surveillance technology is there to spy on their every movement. The trust needed that independent marker that our priorities and the use of cameras is to keep patients and staff safe, but that we seek to do this in a balanced way. There was an added feeling that the recent introduction of body-worn video may have given more ammunition to those cynics.” 

Some three years ago the trust completely refitted the camera recording system selecting the UK company Tecton, and very recently equipped its G4S uniformed security staff with body-worn video cameras. The trust policies and procedures were updated accordingly, which included an active dialogue with emergency service and local authority colleagues. 

But Lees felt there was still the need to prove the balanced and open use of CCTV. This presented itself very clearly when he and local security management specialist Lisa Corbridge attended a national security conference at Chelsea in November last year. One of the keynote speakers at this event was Tony Porter, the surveillance camera commissioner. 

“It still sticks firmly in my mind that Tony Porter was fairly critical of the NHS in not responding to his challenge to adopt the surveillance camera code of practice,” Lees explained. “In saying that there was not, and still is not, a legal mandate for the NHS to take this national code forward. However, it did provide that driver the trust needed to demonstrate the responsible use of its surveillance assets.” 

Barnsley Hospital commenced using body-worn video cameras in December 2016 and, by February this year, the trust had completed the self-assessment tools to apply for third-party certification as a voluntary adopter of the code of practice. Following the initial assessment, the trust achieved 12 months’ accreditation and will be taking part in the independent audit to be able to use the commissioner’s certification mark for five years – showing the inward compliance with the code. 

The trust has also established a ‘Hospital Eyes’ strategy and corresponding public web page, which can be found under the ‘Openness & Transparency’ section of its website. This includes a list of trust cameras and locations, relevant policies, operational procedures, annual surveillance camera reports and monthly actions. It also includes an opportunity for patients and visitors to feedback or complain. 

The figures relating to violence and aggression to staff and anti-social behaviour seem to confirm that the strategy is working, with a 12% reduction in these incidents over the last year, and an 80% reduction over the 2016-17 Christmas period. 

“This is just the assurance process the trust had been seeking,” said Lees. “It shows, via an independent body, that the trust uses its surveillance assets legally and responsibly and gave us the opportunity to critically review the whole process. Every NHS body with CCTV and/or body-worn video should look to this as a standard.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION

W: www.barnsleyhospital.nhs.uk

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