Thousands of ambulance staff in England are expected to benefit from body cameras, with NHS England speeding up the rollout. This follows on from the latest data showing that there were 3,569 physical assaults on staff by the public last year, which is 30% more than five years ago.
The initiative is part of the plan to reduce attacks on staff, with successful trials already taking place in London and the North East. Findings from the trials carried out, showed staff felt safer with the cameras and that they felt better equipped to de-escalate the situation.
The cameras will be distributed to crews in the 10 ambulance trusts across the country. This is earlier than the three-year target set out in the NHS Long Term Plan.
Cameras will be worn by the paramedics, who will be able to record aggressive or abusive behaviour from patients or the public, by pressing a button. This will also be available to police for further enquires.
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 rollout comes after the launch of the first ever national Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard, earlier this year. This will see every NHS trust in the UK publish a plan to combat violence towards staff.
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.”
Garrett Emmerson, Chief Executive of London Ambulance Service, said: “Protecting staff and volunteers on the road is a top priority for our Service. Whilst the vast majority of our patients and the public treat our crews and call handlers with immense respect, a small minority do not.
“Sadly, in the last year, over 600 of our ambulance crews were the victim of physical abuse whilst providing care to Londoners. We very much welcome NHS England’s decision to accelerate the roll out of body-worn cameras nationally, which we hope will both deter incidents and ensure the appropriate prosecution and sentencing of those who attack our people.”