Body cameras will be worn by emergency department staff at an NHS trust where acts of violence and aggression have more than doubled in a year.
Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) said there were 80 reported incidents of abusive behaviour towards staff across the trust in November 2020 compared to 180 in November 2021.
Security staff already wear cameras at John Radcliffe Hospital, but certain medical staff will now also wear the devices as part of a three-month trial to deter visitors from being aggressive.
Frontline staff on shift who have been provided with training will wear the cameras, which are smaller than a smartphone, on their uniform in clear view.
The devices will only be switched on when an individual is being violent or abusive, and only after they have been told they are about to be recorded.
Sam Foster, chief nursing officer at OUH, said the rise in abuse during the coronavirus pandemic was “unacceptable”.
She said: “Everyone should be entitled to work in an environment where they feel safe and free from aggression or abuse. The majority of people treated by our staff are grateful for the care they receive, and we’re grateful to them for continuing to give staff the respect and kindness they deserve.
“However, we have seen an increase in aggression and abuse towards our health and care staff in a range of settings. This is completely unacceptable, and the campaign message is very clear that it will not be tolerated under any circumstances.
“Abuse takes many forms – it doesn’t have to be physical violence. Verbal abuse and aggression can be just as damaging, and can take a huge toll on someone’s wellbeing – in time, this wears people down and can potentially lead to increased sickness and absence.”
Terry Roberts, chief people officer at OUH, added: “Our staff have been absolutely incredible throughout the Covid-19 pandemic; consistently putting the needs of our patients before their own; and every member of our dedicated and hardworking staff has the fundamental right to be safe at work and it is our priority to eliminate violence and abuse.
“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.
“As well as reducing the number of incidents towards our staff, these cameras are a vital step in ensuring patients feel safe too.”
The cameras were introduced on Monday as part of the trust’s ‘There’s No Excuse’ campaign.
In addition to preventing abusive behaviour, it is hoped the cameras will also help to identify and prosecute any offenders.
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