Coming to a hospital near you: People to be filmed in bodycam trial


Australian Medical Association NSW immediate past president Dr Michael Bonning said an uptick in the number of people with serious mental health issues was partly behind the increase in violence.

He pointed to increased substance abuse among some people that had made them more likely to lash out. He said changing social norms meant that respect for healthcare staff had shifted, while long emergency department wait times were not helping.

Where bodycams will be trialled

  • Wyong Hospital (Central Coast Local Health District)
  • Westmead Hospital (Western Sydney Local Health District)
  • Royal North Shore Hospital (Northern Sydney Local Health District)
  • Nepean Hospital (Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District)
  • Liverpool Hospital (South West Sydney Local Health District)
  • Wollongong Hospital (Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District)
  • Shoalhaven Hospital (Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District)
  • John Hunter Hospital (Hunter New England Local Health District)
  • Tamworth Hospital (Hunter New England Local Health District)

“The most valuable asset in delivering good healthcare are the healthcare worker staff – those who are kind and have time to spend time with people – [they] are more likely to be in a position to de-escalate, rather than immediately stepping in with more security,” Bonning said. “When people feel threatened, they may also lash out.”

It is thought that the cameras prevent violence because people are less likely to physically attack someone if they think they are being filmed. Research is somewhat mixed: a trial of the cameras at British railway stations with high rates of reported assaults recorded a 47 per cent reduction in the odds of assaults against staff wearing them.

However, other research found police wearing the cameras altered their behaviour in a way that inhibited their ability to avoid assault.

Charles Sturt University research found staff training was crucial in dealing with aggressive patients who may be triggered by the camera. It also highlighted issues with the storage of footage, and coworkers who use it inappropriately.

The trial is expected to cost $814,000 and start in the next 12 months.

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