Yorkshire paramedics given body cameras after hundreds of attacks

Paramedics in Yorkshire are being provided with body cameras as part of a nationwide trial that aims to reduce the number of violent attacks.

A paramedic wearing a body camera
A paramedic wearing a body camera

The cameras are being given to Yorkshire Ambulance Service crews in Sheffield, Bradford, Wakefield and York during the first phase of NHS England’s 12-month trial.

There have been almost 500 attacks on staff in the region since 2019 and executive director Nick Smith hoped the cameras would “act as a deterrent and help to make colleagues feel safer”.

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He added: “Physical and verbal abuse against any member of NHS staff is completely unacceptable and we are doing everything we can to address this.

“Initial trial findings from elsewhere in the country show the cameras make staff feel safer and can assist in de-escalating situations where staff are faced with someone being aggressive towards them.

“We’re committed to supporting any member of staff who is subject to aggressive behaviour and we will investigate and take appropriate action against anyone who attacks our colleagues.”

According to figures from the regional service, there have been 3,011 incidents of violence or aggression directed at staff since 2019 and 496 physical attacks.

During the pilot, the NHS will look to determine whether the cameras deter violence and aggression and provide visual evidence that can support prosecutions if medics are assaulted.

NHS England has provided crews in the 10 ambulance trusts across the country with the cameras, three years earlier than it originally planned, and says medics will be able to press a button to start recording if patients or other members of the public become aggressive or abusive.

It comes after 3,569 ambulance staff were physically assaulted by the public last year – 30 per cent more than five years ago.

Prerana Isaar, chief people officer for the NHS, said: “Every member of our dedicated and hard-working NHS staff has the fundamental right to be safe at work and it is our priority to eliminate violence and abuse, which we will not tolerate.

“As well as reducing the number of incidents towards our staff, these cameras are a vital step towards ensuring our people feel safe too. The fact we are rolling them out to all ten ambulance trusts three years ahead of schedule is testament to our commitment to tackling this problem.”

Emergency Ambulance crew member Gary Watson, who works in Croydon, was violently assaulted by a drunken patient three years ago while on duty and he suffered a torn ligament and serious injuries to his face, throat and neck.

Mr Watson, who is part of the trial assessing the use of body cams, said: “These cameras are needed and wearing one makes me feel safer.

“They act as a deterrent and will also help to provide evidence if there is an attack.”

He added: “We go to work to help people – not to be assaulted.”