In a move that’s set to help protect ambulance staff from verbal and physical abuse, South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) has announced that it has agreed plans to begin using CCTV on all its vehicles.
SECamb said the move aims to improve staff safety and to deter the small minority of patients who mistakenly believe it is acceptable to verbally and physically abuse ambulance staff when they are trying to do their job.
Many of SECAmb’s ambulances and single response vehicles already have CCTV and discussions have been taking place to finalise the policy on its use.
The systems, which record images but not sound, are expected to come into operation in the coming weeks.
A spokesman for SECamb said: “The CCTV will be used for the purpose of crime prevention, investigation of road traffic collisions and the prosecution of offenders.
“It is hoped that as well as protecting staff from abuse it will also act as a deterrent for the thankfully rare occasions vehicles are targeted by thieves.”
The footage obtained by the CCTV will be encrypted and password protected so it can only be viewed by those with appropriate authority to do so.
SECamb was formed in July 2006, following the merger of Kent, Surrey and Sussex ambulance trusts. It covers an area of 3,600 square miles and a resident population of 4.5 million. The trust responds to 999 calls from the public, immediate and urgent calls from health professionals, as well as providing non-emergency Patient Transport Services in some areas. It employs over 3,000 staff across 60 sites, more than half of whom are paramedics and ambulance technicians.
SECAmb Head of Fleet Justin Wand said he’s pleased that the plans to use CCTV on their ambulances is proceeding, adding: “It is an important move to ensure our staff are appropriately protected. We have been working with our unions to ensure we have a policy that protects staff and patients. CCTV fitted on vehicles ready to be switched on will come into operation in the coming weeks as our vehicles come through their scheduled maintenance.
“All our staff have the right to work in a safe and secure environment and verbal abuse or physical violence must never be seen as part of the job.”