Secamb considers CCTV in ambulances to protect staff

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Media captionAmbulance staff in south-east England speak of their experiences at the hands of violent patients.

CCTV cameras could be installed in ambulances across south-east England in an attempt to cut down on the number of attacks on staff attending emergencies.

South East Coast Ambulance (Secamb) is consulting staff about the possibility of introducing cameras on its vehicles.

Almost a third of its workforce were victims of violence from patients in 2012, according to a staff survey.

"Violence against our staff, or threats of violence and abusive behaviour will not be tolerated," Secamb said.

There were 98 reported assaults on its staff in 2011/12, out of about half a million calls. But that was 28 fewer than in the previous year.

Violent patients

The ambulance trust believes the trend has been fairly level in recent years, but a trust spokesman said: "Just one assault is one too many."

Now the service is considering following other ambulance trusts in installing what it hopes will be a deterrent to violent patients.

The spokesman said CCTV would not be a complete answer, as most attacks happened outside the vehicles, but unions are calling for action to protect staff.

Mary Laxton, Unison regional organiser, said: "The police haven't got the resources to send somebody out. They're as stretched… as we are.

"We've got to educate Joe Public that these are NHS professionals, and when they turn up to help try and support and treat the patient, they don't want to be hit with abusiveness, drunkenness and threats of violence."

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