Paramedics to get body cameras
Paramedics are to be issued with body cameras as part of a new government drive to tackle abuse and violence against NHS staff.
The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced a series of new wellbeing measures ahead of the NHS’s 70th birthday celebrations, which take place on 5 July.
The measures include issuing 465 ambulances and their paramedics with body cameras for an initial pilot, which if successful will be rolled out across the whole health service.
According to the Department of Health, more than 350 prosecutions have been brought against people who have attacked ambulance in the last year alone.
And to help staff manage their own health and reduce sickness absence, fast-access systems will be introduced by NHS employers to speed up access to free mental health support and physiotherapy for their staff.
The services will aim to get staff facing illness back to work faster to allow more patients to get treatment overall.
SHP Online has recently reported that police officers in Humber, parking wardens in Yorkshire and recycling workers in Oxfordshire have all been issued with body cameras to help ensure their safety.
A private members bill, which has been sponsored by the MP Chris Bryant, is currently going through Parliament which seeks to increase the maximum prison sentence for a common assault double from six months to one year if the victim works in the emergency services.
“Nobody should feel unsafe at work – abuse against healthcare workers goes against everything the NHS stands for,” said Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt.
“Whilst the buck must stop with abusers, we want to do everything we can to prevent physical and verbal abuse. Issuing paramedics with body cameras will help protect them and increase prosecutions.”
The Executive Director of Nursing at NHS Improvement, Ruth May, added: “In order to secure the future of the NHS and what it stands for, we must strive to be the very best employer. This means looking after our staff and supporting their health and wellbeing. This will also enable them to deliver the best care possible, both now and in future.”
But Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, Justin Madders said it is “alarming and profoundly worrying” that paramedics now require body cameras to operate safely in their workplace.
“When we have record waiting lists and restrictions on treatments it is a truly sorry state of affairs that resources have to be diverted just so staff can work safely,” added Mr Madders.
“Our NHS staff care for us in our most vulnerable state, and yet we know that on average there are almost 200 assaults on NHS staff in England every single day.
“It is simply unacceptable for anyone to feel unsafe at work. The Government must therefore also ensure the swift passage of the new legislation Labour is backing in Parliament to give our brave NHS and emergency workers the protection they deserve.”