Security staff at SE1's NHS hospitals are being issued with body-worn cameras after attacks on nurses and other frontline workers increased by more than a quarter in the last year.
The six-month trial comes as Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust launches its 'Keep our staff safe' campaign, backed by the Metropolitan Police, to reduce violent and abusive behaviour by patients and visitors and increase staff awareness of the support available to them.
Between April and September this year there were 850 recorded incidents compared to 620 in the same period last year – up by 27 per cent.
In the same six-month period, 75 people were arrested at the hospitals – compared to 30 during the same months of 2015.
26 patients have been excluded from the trust which means they will only be provided with emergency treatment – up from 7 in the same period last year.
130 behaviour contracts have been issued – these explain why that person's behaviour was unacceptable and that any repeat will mean they are excluded from the trust – up from 70 in the same period last year.
"I absolutely understand that coming to hospital can be a very stressful experience and we want to ensure all our patients receive the right care delivered safely, with kindness," said chief nurse Dame Eileen Sills.
"But at times our staff and patients have felt threatened and intimidated by a small number of patients and visitors and we want to send a clear message to people that our staff are here for them. Please let them do their jobs safely.
"We will also be training our staff to identify patients at risk of developing challenging behaviour for clinical reasons so that the appropriate support and interventions can be given to prevent them from harming themselves or others.
"Any unprovoked violence and aggression towards staff is unacceptable. If people do abuse our staff we will take robust action and pursue them through the courts if necessary."
Superintendent Roy Smith said: "We take assaults on NHS staff very seriously. The introduction of body cameras will help prevent them occurring in the first place because they act as an excellent deterrent and provide really good evidence for us to bring offenders to justice.
"I would hope if the pilot here is successful it is something that other NHS Trusts would look to roll out across London."
Guy's and St Thomas' will now issue body cameras to some of its security staff as part of a six-month trial. Footage from the cameras can be used in court to help secure a criminal conviction.
Jayne King, head of security at Guy's and St Thomas', explained: "We have taken this step to assure our staff of their safety and to send the message to people who are violent or abusive on Trust premises that these recordings will be used to bring them to justice."
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