Hemel Hempstead ambulance station to trial body-worn video cameras

Three ambulance stations in Hertfordshire will trial the body-worn video cameras

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 9:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 9:16 am

Ambulance bosses are to roll-out body-worn video cameras to crews working from three stations in Hertfordshire.

East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) started to pilot the cameras from a single station just last month (September), as part of a ongoing national trial.

But now it has emerged they are already planning to accelerate the roll-out of the cameras to a further 18 stations across the region.

The image has been used for illustrative purposes

And the Local Democracy Reporting Service has learned that Stevenage, Hemel Hempstead and Watford will be among the stations in the trial.

Speaking at a meeting of Hertfordshire’s health scrutiny committee on Monday, October 11, EEAST’s chief operating officer Marcus Bailey said the cameras were activated by ambulance crews, as required.

He pointed to ‘learning’ from the national pilot that had already suggested that it made individual clinicians feel safer.

And pointing to the need, he highlighted a single 24-hour period in August when eight EEAST crew members were assaulted.

At the meeting, questions were raised about data protection and the footage that was recorded.

But Mr Bailey stressed that the recording was only activated by crews when they felt they were required and not used continuously.

He said restrictions were in place with regard to the booking out of video cameras, the secure storage of the data and its destruction.

And he said the footage could only be viewed by a central team, with secure access, and only in relation to specified incidents.

Meanwhile, he also referenced further work relating to the possible future use of CCTV cameras in vehicles and on ambulance stations and depots.

Mr Bailey made the remarks as part of a wide-ranging update on the service that also highlighted increasing pressures.

According to a report presented to the committee, there has been a ‘significant increase in demand’ for ambulance services since the end of the Covid-19 lockdown.

And, says the report, patients are often sicker and with more complex needs.

The Trust – which is in ‘special measures’ – is currently operating at ‘REAP 4’, which is the highest escalation alert for ambulance trusts. And according to data in the report, response times are increasing.

Latest data presented to the committee showed that in August there were 24,833 emergency 999 calls made to the service from Hertfordshire and west Essex.

That resulted in 14,370 incidents being attended by the service – and ‘hear an treat’ advice being given in a further 1418.

Those calls that were deemed to be potentially life-threatening and to require an immediate response, saw an ambulance arrive in 8 minutes 45, on average.

Emergency calls for ‘potentially serious conditions’ were responded to in 36 minutes 47, on average.

Meanwhile, those urgent calls where some patients ‘could be treated in their own homes’ were responded to within 1 hour and 40 minutes.

And those deemed to be ‘less urgent’ waited, on average, for two hours and 40 minutes.

Hospital ‘handovers’ were also reported to be having a significant impact on ‘EEAST’s ability to provide a sufficient response’.

Meanwhile, it was reported, the Trust is also drawing up plans for the winter months, when patient demand is expected to increase further.

Those plans – according to the report – include recruiting extra people to take 999 calls, increasing overtime for experienced staff and directing ‘non urgent’ patients to ‘more appropriate services.

They also include plans to increase the use of private ambulance services – and contingency plans to draw on the support of the military and fire services.