Body-worn cameras are set to be introduced in Royal Derby Hospital’s A&E for clinical staff to use, in order to help protect NHS colleagues and patients alike from threatening and violent behaviour.
The cameras are roughly the size of a smartphone and will only be worn by designated clinical staff to help deter hospital visitors from being aggressive – creating a safer environment for everyone in the department.
In addition to hopefully preventing this type of behaviour from happening, the body-worn cameras will also help to identify and prosecute any offenders, following a sharp rise in incidents of violence and aggression against A&E staff at RDH since the start of the pandemic.
The A&E escalation manager on shift will wear the camera on their uniform in clear view, while the body-worn video will only be switched on when an individual is being violent or abusive, and only after they’ve been told that they’re about to be recorded.
Staff are currently undergoing training, ahead of the launch of the cameras in A&E, with their implementation giving weight to the Trust’s firm stance that ‘this type of behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in our hospitals’.
Dr Magnus Harrison, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Medical Director at UHDB, said: “While we’d clearly prefer that it was never necessary for us to have to purchase body-worn cameras, we are pleased to now have them at our disposal in our A&E at Royal Derby Hospital, should they ever be needed. The safety and wellbeing of our staff and patients is our ultimate priority, so we hope that the availability of the cameras will offer some protection, whilst also acting as a deterrent to anyone who behaves in this manner, by helping us to identify offenders.
“Our staff have been absolutely incredible throughout the Covid-19 pandemic; consistently putting the needs of our patients before their own, so I find it unbelievable that we’ve still seen regular instances of them experiencing abuse at work. Violent and aggressive behaviour, be that against our staff or other patients or visitors, has absolutely no place in our hospitals and will not be tolerated. We would encourage our people to always report these incidents and will support prosecutions against anyone found guilty of abusing our staff in any way, whilst they’re at work.”
Despite their heroic efforts throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there has sadly still been a marked rise in acts of violence and aggression against UHDB staff, including in A&E at RDH, where the number of reported incidents increased by 29% over a 12 month period.
Among those to experience horrendous abuse first-hand is A&E sister Megan Williams, who has worked at UHDB for 15 years but admitted that the regularity of incidents of violence and aggression from patients and hospital visitors over the last year was the worst she’s seen.
She said: “I’ve been called many insulting names, I’ve been threatened with sexual violence, I’ve been threatened to be stabbed, and people have threatened to come after my family as well. I’ve also seen the impact of violence and aggression towards my colleagues.
“I’ve seen staff be assaulted, be punched, kicked, and people have threatened to infect us with Covid-19 by spitting at us. You just feel so powerless and defenceless when this kind of thing happens. It’s just not acceptable and needs to stop.”
Derbyshire Constabulary supports the Trust’s use of body-worn video, having seen the effect the technology can have on deterring people from acting aggressively.
“Assaults on NHS staff, who work tirelessly to help save lives, are utterly reprehensible”, said Chief Inspector Ranjit Dol.
“As a Force, we fully support the use of body-worn video, which will provide conclusive evidence to help bring those responsible to justice. We know from our police experience that body-worn video also acts as a deterrent for those intent on causing harm, or the fear of harm. This in turn provides the user or carrier with a degree of reassurance and confidence, which directly impacts their wellbeing and ability to better serve.
“If anyone thinks that assaulting a member of NHS staff is acceptable, then they should know that the Force will seek to prosecute you to the fullest extent.”