CCTV scheme to cut NHS violence

A year-long trial aimed at cutting physical and verbal attacks on Welsh health staff has been announced.

The scheme will see cctv cameras installed in accident and emergency units at four Welsh hospitals and in some ambulances.

The hospitals are Prince Charles in Merthyr Tydfil, Royal Gwent in Newport, West Wales General in Carmarthen and Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.

Health minister Edwina Hart said she was "determined" to address the issue.

"Violence and aggression against staff is totally unacceptable and I am determined to stamp out this behaviour," said the minister.

"I have made clear that the perpetrators of attacks on staff should be prosecuted.

"I hope that the introduction of the cctv cameras at the accident and emergency units and in ambulances will help provide more evidence to support prosecutions."

The new cameras are being sited in both clinical and non-clinical areas of the hospitals.

In addition to the hospital locations, a number of ambulances stationed at Blackweir in Cardiff will also be fitted with recording equipment.

If the pilot is successful in reducing incidents of violence and increasing prosecutions for attacks, the assembly government says the scheme will be extended across Wales.

The latest figures on violence against NHS staff in Wales reveal that there were 8,466 incidents of physical and verbal abuse in 2006-2007.

"All members of the NHS have a right to feel safe in their working environment whilst caring for the sick and injured," said Tina Donnelly, director of the Royal College of Nursing Wales.

"RCN Wales supports the new measures outlined by the health minister as we have campaigned on this issue for some considerable time."

'Unnacceptable'

The project is also being backed by the union Unison. Head of health, Dave Galligan, said: "In particular lone workers will now have more security from their ability to make contact with the control centre.

"However when all these measures are in place we would expect to see a reduction in the number of reported incidents from the currently very high and unacceptable level."

David Francis, who has been appointed by the assembly government as its all-Wales violence and aggression champion, added: "In developing the cctv pilots we have worked closely with staff, and have had very good support from the police.

"It will also demonstrate to our employees, wherever they may work, that NHS Wales is determined to confront violent behaviour and properly support victims."


THE BBC.CO.UK