Body cameras now in use at Newham Hospital’s Emergency Department | News from Newham

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Body cameras now in use at Newham Hospital’s Emergency Department

Staff at Newham Hospital’s emergency department have been provided with body cameras as an additional support to de-escalating violent and aggressive incidents that arise in the department. 

In emergency departments across the country, patients can often behave aggressively, both towards staff and towards other patients. As Dr Kat Baird, an Emergency Medicine Consultant at Newham Hospital explains: “While it can at times be understandable that people get annoyed – they’re unwell, they’re frustrated at having to wait – this behaviour isn’t conducive to them being cared for or helped in an appropriate manner. And it can be distressing for other patients.”

The idea behind introducing body cameras to the department is for them to act as deterrents against aggressive behaviour. The team in Newham Hospital’s emergency department are well trained in managing incidents where patients or their family become violent or aggressive. But on some occasions, their expertise isn’t enough to defuse the situation. In these cases, having the body camera as an additional support will help to keep them and other patients safe. 

Kat continues: “Most of the time these cameras are turned off. But on those occasions where I or my colleagues feel like we need additional support, then we can tell the individual that we are turning the camera on and they’re being recorded. 

“When the cameras are on, people can see themselves on the screen and how they’re behaving. Often, holding this mirror up to them and them seeing their behaviour is enough for them to calm down. On rare occasions, it isn’t, and in these instances, we have the camera footage as evidence, should the incident need to be taken further.”

She continues, “These body cameras aren’t about collecting evidence for prosecution, but rather about us stopping the need for any prosecutions to happen by diffusing the situation.”  

Bodycameras at Newham Hospital

Not only will the cameras help create a safer environment for staff, they’ll also be of benefit to patients by making the emergency department a calmer, less stressful, safer place to come. As Kat explains, the actions of one can impact the many: “Last week, someone made a member of staff cry. And a few nights later, there was someone throwing items around the department, punching walls and cursing very, very loudly. The person in the bed next to him was an 84-year-old lady – she would have already been stressed and worried being in hospital and so didn’t need this additional stress. My hope is that by having these body cameras available to staff, we will help to dramatically reduce incidents like this by diffusing and de-escalating them faster.”

In addition, the team hope that having these cameras, which are worn by different members of staff (e.g. nurses, doctors, receptionists) will result in them having to call the police to come to the department less often. 

“Ultimately”, concludes Kat, “our goal is to make our emergency department a safer place to work and a safer place to be treated. Having these body cameras, which have been shown to act as a deterrent to aggressive behaviour, is going to have a big impact on helping us achieve this goal.” 

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