Figures released by Oxford University NHS Trust show that the number of reported assaults experienced by hospital workers has remained constant this year, despite a £10,000 investment in body cameras.
215 hospital staff were assaulted in 2016 at Oxford University Hospitals, leading many to doubt the efficacy of the investment.
This was a rise of 12 assaults from 2015, and will disappoint those who had hoped that introducing the cameras, worn by all on-duty security officials, would deter aggression towards staff.
Figures show that 199 of the 215 assaults can be linked to mental health conditions of the attacker. Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust emphasised that despite the apparent increase in the number of assaults, the figures, as a proportion, have remained stagnant once staff size increases are taken into account.
Speaking to Cherwell, the trust security manager Rachel Collins said: “The reassurance that the cameras have provided to both staff and patients has been very valuable.
“In the year to December 2016, the Trust provided Thames Valley Police with footage from the bodyworn cameras in 14 cases of violence and aggression at the John Radcliffe site. In addition, footage was used in six internal investigations.
“In this period, the number of complaints received alleging unreasonable force by our security officers across the Trust fell to five, from nine the previous year. All of these complaints were dismissed thanks to evidence from the bodyworn cameras.”
Unison representative Ian McKendrick said: “I am far from convinced by the use of body cameras.
“Our whole training is about prevention. What is the government doing about preventing this from happening? Assaults have gone up in the past five years and I think it is because of waiting times and patients get frustrated.
“You have to address the thing that is driving people to that.”
The Director of Organisational Development at Oxford University Hospitals, Mark Power, said that incidents will only be referred to the police where the assault is not a result of a patient’s ill health.
“Occasionally, members of the public display inappropriate behaviour towards our staff, which is sometimes violent, aggressive or intimidating in nature,” he said.
“We take all such incidents very seriously and, where they are reported by staff, will always initiate appropriate action.”