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Staff at University Hospital to Wear Cameras Amidst Increase in Violence

Image Description: John Radcliffe Hospital

Medical staff within the emergency department at the University’s John Radcliffe Hospital will wear body cameras as part of the Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS Foundation Trust’s There’s No Excuse campaign, launched on Monday. This is happening in the wake of an increase in violence seen in hospitals, with the OUH saying that instances of aggression towards health and care staff across the trust have increased from 80 in November 2020 to 180 in November 2021. Sam Foster, its chief nursing officer has called the rise ‘completely unacceptable’ and it will ‘not be tolerated under any circumstances’.

The cameras are smaller than a smartphone and will be worn to deter hospital visitors from becoming violent, with Terry Roberts, OUH’s chief people officer calling it both a way to reduce incidents towards hospital staff but also ‘a vital step in ensuring patients feel safe too.’ They will also help to identify and if necessary, prosecute any offenders. Frontline staff on shift using the cameras have been provided with training and are told to wear them on their uniforms in clear view of any patients. The devices will only be switched on when a person becomes violent or abusive and after they have been told they will be recorded. A three-month trial of body cameras started this Monday.

Foster added that OUH fully understand the ‘anxieties, stress, and worry caused by the ongoing pandemic’, but urged people to ‘treat our staff with respect’ as they are working ‘incredibly hard in challenging circumstances’ the public safe over the past two years. She warned that “verbal abuse and aggression can be just as damaging [as physical violence], and can take a huge toll on someone’s wellbeing…potentially [leading] to increased sickness and absence.”

Terry Roberts also said that “every member of [the OUH] staff has the fundamental right to be safe at work and it is our priority to eliminate violence and abuse.”