West London Mental Health Trust
West London Mental Health Trust

NHS West London Trust Launches Violence Reduction Strategy with Body Cameras

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The use of body worn video cameras on mental health wards

Former health and social care minister Stephen Hammond recently reported that there were more than 2,318 assaults against Suffolk NHS workers alone in 2018 – equating to over 6 assaults every day.

The Challenge in Healthcare

The most recent NHS staff survey revealed that the assaults are not an isolated trend. More than 28% of all NHS employees have experienced violence from patients, their relatives or the public in the last 12 months – the highest figure to date.*

There we more than 2,318 assaults against Suffolk NHS workers alone in 2018 – equating to over 6 assaults every day.Stephen Hammond, Former Health and Social Care Minister

The government has responded by launching the NHS violence reduction strategy, which includes £2m for programmes to reduce violence, bullying and harassment against NHS staff. Trusts around the country are introducing specialist body-worn cameras (BWC) that can be worn by nursing staff as a tool to help achieve this, with resounding success.

Existing Research

In 2017, under the aegis of their Innovation Research department and with support from Calla, researchers and clinicians from the Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) conducted a project to examine the feasibility of using body-worn cameras in an inpatient mental health setting.

The Trust trialled twelve cameras by 60 staff for three months across five wards, and the feedback collected from staff and patients via focus groups and questionnaires received overwhelmingly positive feedback.

83% of patients felt the cameras were of benefit, describing the main positives as safety for everyone, respect for staff and accurate recording. Staff feedback included, “I think it prevents a lot of aggression and puts patients’ minds at ease knowing there is a record of what happened.”

Improving patient and staff safety, coupled with improving the quality of care afforded are key priorities for us and we are always striving to find innovative ways to achieve those objectives. As this study has proven, body worn cameras could play an integral role in accomplishing those goals.Alex O’Neill-Kerr, Clinical Medical Director at Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

A published study from West London Trust

West London Trust (WLT) have advanced research by conducting a study to look at some of the implications of the technology, which is available today via open access.

key findings:

  • BWC use was associated with a significant reduction in the seriousness of incidents on local services admissions wards.
  • There was a significant decline in the use of tranquilising injections during restraint incidents.
  • BWCs were associated with a reduction in the overall seriousness of aggression and violence in reported incidents

Therefore, the conclusion is that their use is beneficial to patients, mental health staff, and managers.

Furthermore, staff surveys also revealed an overwhelmingly positive adoption of the cameras.

  • 80% thought that BWCs would have a positive impact
  • 86% believed that BWCs would help reassure both staff and patients
  • 100% of staff had encountered instances of verbal or physical aggression at least once a week
  • 87% spent a considerable portion of their time dealing with aggressive behaviour
  • 80% said that dealing with aggressive behaviour often gets in the way of doing the job they ought/want to be doing
  • 80% said that if BWCs could help reduce aggressive behaviour, or the time spent dealing with it, it would positively impact their day-to-day tasks
  • 60% could recall a work incident where they wished they’d had a body camera

Feedback from the Pilot Study

Stephanie Bridger, Director of nursing and patient experience at WLT, said: “The pilot provided us with really useful data which supported the use of body-worn cameras on our inpatient wards. The data showed that the cameras helped reduce serious incidents and modified behaviour in a positive way for both staff and patients. This has been a great innovation for us, and we will be rolling this out across our Trust.”

Lead author Tom Ellis, Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth, concludes: “The changes after BWC introduction across all 7 of the WLT MH wards in this pilot study are encouraging. The number of the most serious incidents, i.e. those requiring constraint by use of tranquilising injections, was significantly reduced.”