Ipswich nurse leads discussion on whether NHS staff should wear body cameras

Ipswich nurse Sarah Seeley. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

Ipswich nurse Sarah Seeley. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Andy Abbott

An Ipswich nurse said a “really good discussion” took place today at an international conference about whether NHS staff should wear body cameras to improve safety.

Sarah Seeley, chairman of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Suffolk branch, raised the issue at the union’s annual congress in Belfast.

A bill is currently passing through parliament seeking tougher punishments for people who attack emergency staff in the line of their duties.

Addressing members at the conference, Ms Seeley said: “We have seen assaults on nursing staff dramatically increase in recent years.

“These have included staff being strangled, stabbed, headbutted, punched, kicked, spat at, slapped, bitten and even having their eyes gouged.

“Figures widely reported in January, 2018, suggested over 6,509 common assaults reported on emergency staff during 2016-17.

“This needs to be addressed to prevent further year-on-year increase of incidents.

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“Within the NHS, a number of organisations have piloted body-worn cameras for security staff and last year at least one mental health trust piloted them for clinical staff.

“My trust’s security staff all wear body cameras at all times which was recently introduced this year.

“Nurses feeling safer surely improves patient outcomes?”

Concerns were raised over the ethics of NHS staff using body worn cameras.

Clair Carson, acute mental health service manager at Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “What would we do with the information?

“Consideration needs to be given to how it is used, viewed, saved and shared.

“Surely a better way to manage the events described is to have a more therapeutic staffing approach to care with appropriate levels and skills to manage the situations so these don’t escalate to begin with.” Speaking to this newspaper following the debate, Ms Seeley said: “The discussion was really good.

“It was probably about a 50/50 split. I’ve said that it must not interfere with the nurse/patient relationship.

“It has to be the right place, right time and with the right patient group and more studies are needed.”

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