Headlines: December 18th, 2009

A pilot scheme is being launched in parts of Wales to use CCTV to help reduce violent and aggressive behaviour towards health service staff. The project, funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, will see cameras installed in four accident and emergency departments across Wales and five ambulances in Cardiff.

The year-long pilot aims to gather evidence to support prosecutions. The Assembly Government’s Health Minister, Edwina Hart, said: “It is unacceptable that NHS staff face wilful violence and aggression whilst going about their day-to-day duties caring for patients.”

The Minister said the use of the CCTV cameras would not just help to provide more evidence to support prosecutions but would act as a deterrent, making people think twice before abusing staff. She gave assurances that priority had been given to patient privacy and dignity through close liaison with doctors, nurses and patient representatives.

Dr Chris Jones, who chairs the Cwm Taf Health Board, said the pilot was an important innovation. “We rely heavily on our staff to meet the challenges of people who are unwell and in need of help. It is vital that we protect our staff and the vast majority of our law abiding patients from the unwarranted actions and behaviour of the few,” he added.

The hospitals involved are the Prince Charles in Merthyr Tydfil, the Royal Gwent in Newport, West Wales General in Carmarthen and Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor. Five ambulances from the Blackweir Ambulance Station in Cardiff will also be fitted with CCTV systems.