Doctors and nurses could be issued with body cameras to record violent patients following a successful pilot scheme in England.
More than 40 staff at Berrywood Hospital within Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust were issued with cameras between December and March and the number of violent incidents and use of emergency restraints dropped by 14 per cent.
There are around 70,000 assaults on NHS staff every year, so if rolled out nationally, the scheme could prevent 10,000 incidents a year.
“I think it was very successful, because we have shown it is feasible to implement it, but we need a much larger study to say with any certainty that it will cause a reduction in incidents,” said Dr Alex O’Neil-Kerr, the trust’s clinical medical director.
“If it does, then yes, I think it should be rolled out.”
Dr O'Neil-Kerr also believes the camera footage could be used in debriefs with patients and that the cost of the cameras could pay for themselves by cutting the number of complaints.
Dr Sheila Hardy, a senior research fellow with the trust, added: “I see no reason why it can’t be rolled out to other areas of health, such as district nurses and GP practices.”
The pilot, which was carried out across the hospital’s five wards, reported 105 violent incidents and emergency restraints compared with 122 in the same period the previous year.
Staff wore the cameras throughout their shift but only switched them on when they deemed an incident was escalating.
Healthcare assistants said it made a “massive difference” and deescalated aggression, and claimed the technology prompted a woman to stop kicking a door, and a man to stop hitting a member of staff.
Footage was saved for 31 days on a secure network and kept for longer if it needed further reviewing.
Departing Chelmsford MP and Conservative Sir Simon Burns, a former health minister, suggested the cameras be switched on 24/7 to capture any misconduct by staff.