The NHS celebrated its 75th anniversary this year, but the institution is in a poor state, with staff demoralised from the pandemic, overworked and underpaid. Last week, morale took another hit after nurse Lucy Letby was found guilty for the murder of seven premature babies and the attempted murder of six others across 2015 - 2016. After a ten month trial, she has been given a whole life term. Her former colleague, Dr Ravi Jayaram, presenter of Channel 4's series Born Naughty and consultant paediatrician at the Countess of Chester Hospital where the attacks took place, was ignored by management when he raised concerns. Jayaram told ITV News that he considered getting security cameras fitted in the ward to catch Letby.
“We discussed having CCTV put onto the unit,” he explained.
Now, calls are being made for healthcare professionals to wear body cameras, as police officers do, to safeguard patients and staff.
Body cameras can protect healthcare workers from violent patients and safeguard patients from unethical staff
If a healthcare professional is wearing a body camera, any complaints made against them can be investigated, whether it is a nurse attacking a baby or using discriminatory language to describe a patient.
Psychiatrist Amanda Joy Calhoun advocates for doctors wearing body cameras.
“Body cameras record the actions and behaviours of police in real time, which can be accessed during police violence investigations,” Calhoun said. “Body camera footage is linked to reduced police brutality and cameras in schools are effective against bullying. Monitoring the actions of individuals can result in self-checking behaviour. If we want to see a reduction in poor health outcomes for Black patients, we must hold health care professionals accountable in real time.”
In addition to protecting patients, body cameras can also be used to protect hospital staff from attacks by angry patients. If a patient (or their loved one) is being aggressive towards staff, once they are aware that they are being filmed this may help them to deescalate a situation or secure evidence that can be passed onto the police.
Healthcare professionals reprimanded for personal videos about patients
If body cameras for healthcare professionals are rolled out, steps must be taken to ensure that the footage remains private and confidential.
Yet in the social media age, many people are used to making short, personal videos about themselves everyday. Some share their career experiences online to voice their thoughts, share concerns, seek advice, make jokes and attract attention - but some are risking their jobs in doing so.
Nurses from Emory Healthcare shared a video about patient behaviours that they find disgusting on TikTok, with Emory Healthcare publicly responding that it took appropriate actions with the former employees.
“We are aware of the TikTok video that included disrespectful and unprofessional comments about maternity patients. This video does not represent our commitment to patient- and family-centred care and falls short of the values and standards we expect every member of our team to hold and demonstrate,” Emory Healthcare said in a statement.
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