Paramedics To Wear Police-Style Body Cameras To Protect From Attacks

More than 15% of NHS workers have suffered physical violence in the past year
Ambulance staff will get body cameras, under new plans.
Ambulance staff will get body cameras, under new plans.
sturti via Getty Images

Paramedics will be issued with police-style body cameras to help protect them from violent attacks, Jeremy Hunt announced.

More than 15% of NHS workers have suffered physical violence from patients or their families in the past year.

Under a pilot scheme, 465 ambulances and their paramedics will be given cameras.

If successful, the move will be extended to all paramedics and some other parts of the health service.

Over the last year, 354 prosecutions have been brought in cases involving attacks on ambulance staff, but it is believed the scale of the problem is far greater.

NHS staff will also be given speedier access to mental health services and physiotherapy under a support package for workers, the health secretary said.

Hunt admitted staff are under “huge pressure” and have “never worked harder” as he announced the measures ahead of the 70th anniversary of the health service.

He said: “Nobody should feel unsafe at work – abuse against healthcare workers goes against everything the NHS stands for.

“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.”

Hunt wants to reform working conditions to help reduce staff absence by increasing the speed they receive health care, such as access to mental health services.

He said: “The NHS is consistently rated as the thing that makes us most proud to be British, but it’s not the institution or buildings that the public is so passionate about, it’s the people on the frontline that care for them in their hour of need.

“Demand for NHS services has been soaring in recent years as our population has aged and increased, so staff have been under huge pressure and have never worked harder.

“In these challenging circumstances, they need to know that the NHS is striving to be the best employer it can be – particularly when supporting the mental health of staff.”

Ruth May, executive director of nursing at NHS Improvement, said: “The NHS’s greatest asset is its people: frontline staff and managers who often work in highly stressful and challenging circumstances so that people get the safe and high-quality care they deserve.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

Nurses, doctors and other health workers joined a protest march in London on Saturday to demand more money for the health service.

The government has said it will put an extra £20 billion a year in by 2023 but critics say it is not enough to meet the growing demands on the service.


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