NHS paramedics to use body cameras in bid to stop attacks after trials

Paramedics are to wear bodycams to prevent or record assaults by aggressive patients as number of attacks soar

  • Frontline workers in London and North East have been using the cameras in trials
  • Medics will wear cameras and be able to press a button to start recording if a patient or member of the public becomes aggressive or abusive 
  • NHS England data shows 32 per cent rise in reported assault of ambulance staff  

Paramedics will wear body cameras in a bid to prevent thousands of attacks on frontline staff each year, officials said.

Data from NHS England showed that 3,569 ambulance staff reported being assaulted in 2020/21 – a 32 per cent rise from five years previously.

Frontline ambulance staff in London and the North East have been using the cameras in trials. They will now be rolled out throughout the country.

Medics will wear the cameras and be able to press a button to start recording if a patient or member of the public becomes aggressive or abusive – with the film available to the police.

Frontline ambulance staff in London and the North East have been using the cameras in trials. They will now be rolled out throughout the country

The NHS said the trial also showed that cameras can de-escalate situations where staff are faced with aggression.

Gary Watson, who works for the London Ambulance Service in Croydon, was violently assaulted by a drunk patient in 2018 while on duty. 

He suffered a torn ligament and serious injuries to his face, throat and neck.

He 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.’

Data from NHS England showed that 3,569 ambulance staff reported being assaulted in 2020/21 – a 32 per cent rise from five years previously

Prerana Issar, chief people officer for the NHS in England, 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: ‘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.

‘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.’

The move follows an initiative launched earlier this year which tasked every NHS trust in the country to publish a plan to tackle violence towards staff.

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