Ambulance staff in Warwickshire to get body cameras after 1,100 physical attacks in a year
BODY cameras are to be given to ambulance workers after more than 1,100 frontline emergency staff were assaulted last year.
West Midlands Ambulance Service said 1,162 physical attacks were recorded on its staff in 2020-21), with a further 2,181 cases of verbal abuse.
The figures are part of an increasing trend in attacks over the last five years - physical attacks have risen by over 60 per cent while verbal assaults have more than doubled in the same period.
Funding of almost £1m from NHS England will allow the trust to buy 1,288 cameras – enough for each frontline ambulance crew member to wear one.
Trust chief executive Anthony Marsh said: “The safety of my staff is of paramount importance to me. If they are injured, they are not available to respond to patients.
“The cameras will allow staff to record incidents where they feel at risk with any recordings being able to be given in evidence should an actual assault occur.
“Hopefully, they will never have to be used, but if they are, the evidence will hopefully increase the rate of successful prosecutions and subsequent sentencing. All too often my staff feel let down by the judicial system and this important step will help to redress that situation.”
The trust ran a pilot using 30 cameras in the autumn of 2019 which fed into the decision by NHS England to roll the cameras out across the country.
The cameras do not record all of the time and need to be switched on if patients or a member of the public become aggressive or abusive. Once the device is recording, it will display red lights to show that it is recording.
Paramedic Neil Vann from Coventry was knocked unconscious by a patient who he was trying to help.
The man was subsequently jailed for six months, but Neil says having the camaras might have made the situation very different: “The cameras are there to protect us in case things turn nasty. I hope I never have to switch it on, but given what happened to me, it is nice to know that I have the chance to record what happened so that a court can see.
“The vast majority of people probably won’t know they are even there – they won’t be switched on in 99.9% of occasions, but they are there just in case. I feel sure that had I had a camera when I was assaulted, my assailant might have thought twice about attacking me.”