Paramedics to be fitted with body-worn cameras to help curb attacks on frontline workers
Written by Hitmix News on 2 June 2021
Ambulance crews are to be given body-worn cameras after thousands of attacks against staff were reported last year.
Trials showed the devices reduced violence against paramedics, who also felt safer if they had something to record with.
NHS England data showed that 3,569 ambulance staff reported being assaulted in 2020 and 2021 – a 32% rise from five years previously.
The devices will be given to workers in all 10 NHS trusts in England, three years ahead of the target date.
The cameras will be turned on with the press of a button, and footage may be made available to police in some circumstances.
Trials of the scheme took place in London and with North East Ambulance Service.
Gary Watson works as an emergency ambulance crew member for London Ambulance Service in Croydon and has been part of the trials.
He was attacked in 2018 while working, suffering torn ligaments as well as severe injuries to his face, throat and neck.
Image: Ambulance Crew member Gary Watson was attacked in 2018
Two of his colleagues were also injured and a fourth was left shaken.
Following the incident, a man was convicted and handed a suspended sentence.
Mr Watson said: “These cameras are needed, and wearing one makes me feel safer. They act as a deterrent and will also help provide evidence if there is an attack.
“We go to work to help people, not to be assaulted. It’s disgusting that a minority think it’s ok to behave in such a violent way.”
Minister of State for Health and Social Care, Nadine Dorries said: “Violence and abuse against our staff is absolutely abhorrent. The NHS and social care workforce have worked tirelessly to protect us all throughout the pandemic, and they deserve our full support and protection.
“I’m pleased the NHS is rolling out these body cameras ahead of schedule, as they have been proven to reduce incidents, make staff feel safer and can help bring violent offenders to justice.
“We have already doubled the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker and continue to take action to protect staff against violence, aggression and discrimination.”
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 fact that we are rolling them out to all ten ambulance trusts three years ahead of schedule is testament to our commitment to tackling this problem and is nothing less than our staff deserve.”
Darren Green, clinical service manager at North East Ambulance Service, said: “Nobody comes to work to be abused, but especially not by the people they have come to help. Sadly, these cameras are needed now more than ever.”