NHS Nurse Reveal Camera 1
NHS Nurse Reveal Camera 1

Enhancing Hospital Safety: The Impact of Body Cameras at Oxford University Hospitals

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Enhancing Hospital Safety: The Impact of Body Cameras at Oxford University Hospitals

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH) employ over 14,000 staff across four major hospital sites, and staff on select wards now wear body cameras. Here, their Senior Strategic Programme Manager Mark Britton explains how the adoption of Reveal body cameras came about at OUH and gives his advice for anyone considering trialling body cameras with their colleagues.

"Patient care and safety are our top priority, and we saw the cameras as a key part of our broader strategy to maintain a safe and secure environment for everyone - protecting our staff and patients and hopefully de-escalating potentially violent situations.

And with the cameras now in place there’s been a noticeable impact: they definitely have a deterring effect on potential aggressors. Also, in situations where aggression does occur, their ability to record incidents has helped in swiftly addressing them and providing clear evidence for any necessary follow-up actions.

Anyone considering adopting this technology into their site must pilot it. We needed a ward where we had high incidents of violence and aggression so we could quickly measure whether the cameras made a difference, so that meant A&E.

I remember there was some apprehension from staff – in fact we conducted surveys before and after the pilot, which show a noticeable shift in attitudes. So, before the trial, 63% saw the need for body cameras. After experiencing their benefits first-hand, this number jumped to 96%.

When people know they are being recorded, their behaviour often changes, they calm themselves down. The cameras used in healthcare have a front-facing screen, showing that recording is in progress, and it’s this that acts as a deterrent.

One might assume that cameras could create a barrier or a sense of mistrust. However, we've found the opposite to be true in most cases. When patients and visitors understand that cameras are there for everyone's safety, it often leads to a heightened sense of mutual respect. It's about creating a safe environment for both staff and patients."

NHS Nurse Reveal Camera
NHS Worker Wearing Reveal Camera

"Another subject you’ll need to address at the pilot and beyond is privacy. Understandably this comes up again and again. So, you have to communicate that usage is very controlled and follows strict guidelines. We involved the staff from the beginning, explaining the purpose and use of the cameras. Training was provided to ensure everyone understood how and when to use them.

The cameras are activated only when necessary, this means that they are not constantly recording, which is a common misconception. Additionally, the footage is encrypted and securely stored, accessible only to authorised personnel and all aligned with the Data Protection Act. This ensures that the information captured is used responsibly and only for the intended purposes. Everyone needs to know that.

We've ensured that there's clear signage in the hospital informing patients and visitors about the potential use of body cameras for everyone’s safety, and staff have the answers for any visitors asking about privacy.

Training is therefore crucial. It's not just about the technical aspects of operating the cameras but also about understanding when and how to use them appropriately. We emphasise the importance of judgment and discretion. The staff are trained to inform patients and visitors when they are activating the camera, ensuring transparency in the process."

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The staff feel more secure, knowing they have a tool to protect themselves in difficult situations. And I think that’s something we didn’t anticipate going into this; yes, we can measure a decline in incidents, but less tangible is the positive effect on staff wellbeing. The cameras provide a sense of value and support to our healthcare workers.

I believe body cameras will become an increasingly integral part of healthcare. As we continue to see their benefits in enhancing safety and security, I think more healthcare institutions will adopt this technology. It's about continuous learning and adapting the technology to meet the specific needs of healthcare environments.

Personally, it’s been a rewarding journey to see how a piece of technology can make such a positive impact in healthcare. At OUH we're committed to continuing this work and ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our staff and patients."

Mark Britton is Senior Strategic Programme Manager for Oxford University Hospitals.