NHS roll out of body cams in boost to ambulance crews safety

Hundreds of ambulance crews across the Capital will be provided with body cameras as part of an NHS crackdown to reduce attacks on staff.

The introduction of the cameras comes alongside data that over 600 ambulance staff in London were physically assaulted by the public in the last year.

Medics will wear the cameras and be able to press a button to start recording if patients or the public become aggressive or abusive, with filming made available to police where needed.

Following successful, ongoing trials in Croydon, South Croydon, Edmonton, and Chase Farm, as well as trials in the North East of England, the NHS will now roll out the cameras to crews in the 10 ambulance trusts across the country – three years ahead of the NHS Long Term Plan target.

The announcement follows the launch of the first ever national Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard at the beginning of the year, with every NHS trust in the country expected to publish a plan to tackle violence towards staff.

Mark Watson, Director of Workforce for the NHS in London said: 

“We want every member of our dedicated and hardworking NHS workforce in London to feel safe at work – which is why, after a successful trial, we’re pleased to be rolling out body cameras to all our ambulance crews to help reduce the number of incidents against them.”

Chief Executive of London Ambulance Service, Garrett Emmerson said:

“Protecting staff and volunteers on the road is a top priority for our Service.  Whilst the vast majority of our patients and the public treat our crews and call handlers with immense respect, a small minority do not.

“Sadly, in the last year, over 600 of our ambulance crews were the victim of physical abuse whilst providing care to Londoners.  We very much welcome NHS England’s decision to accelerate the roll out of body-worn cameras nationally, which we hope will both deter incidents and ensure the appropriate prosecution and sentencing of those who attack our people.”

Emergency Ambulance Crew member Gary Watson works for London Ambulance Service and is based in Croydon. He has been wearing a body camera as part of a trial that launched this year at four ambulance stations in South and North London, in which crews wear the devices.

Gary was violently assaulted by a drunk patient in January 2018, while on duty. He suffered a torn ligament and serious injuries to his face, throat and neck in the attack. Two other medics were also injured and a fourth badly shaken. A man was convicted, receiving a suspended sentence.

Gary 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.”