ALL frontline West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) staff are to wear body cameras after over 1,162 physical attacks against staff were recorded last year.

A further 2,181 cases of verbal abuse were also recorded last year.

The trust has purchased 1,288 cameras thanks to funding of almost a million pounds from NHS England.

Trust chief executive, Anthony Marsh, said: “The safety of my staff is of paramount importance to me. If they are injured, they are not available to respond to patients.

“The cameras will allow staff to record incidents where they feel at risk with any recordings being able to be given in evidence should an actual assault occur.

“Hopefully, they will never have to be used, but if they are, the evidence will hopefully increase the rate of successful prosecutions and subsequent sentencing. All too often my staff feel let down by the judicial system and this important step will help to redress that situation.”

Physical attacks on WMAS staff have increased by over 60 percent in the last five years while verbal assaults have more than doubled.

WMAS ran a pilot scheme in Autumn 2019 using 30 cameras. In over 36,000 hours of use, there were only three activations by staff, and only one of those related to violence.

Senior operations manager, Graeme Jones, ran the Trust’s pilot project in 2019. He said: “The staff involved in the initial trial reported that the cameras made them feel safer and were useful in de-escalating situations where a patient or member of the public started to become aggressive; just saying that they were going to turn on the camera often calmed situations down very rapidly.

“The fact that after hundreds of shifts we hadn’t caught any footage is probably the best result we could have hoped for; clearly it is much better for people not to be hurt than for us to have to use footage as part of a prosecution.”

All ambulance staff will be able to wear the cameras while they are on shift.

They do not record all of the time and are instead switched on by the member of staff if patients or the public became aggressive or abusive.

Once the device is recording, it will display red lights to show that it is recording.

Paramedic Neil Vann from Coventry was knocked unconscious by a patient in 2017 who he was trying to help.

The man was jailed for six months, but Neil says having the cameras might have made the situation very different.

He said: “The cameras are there to protect us in case things turn nasty. I hope I never have to switch it on, but given what happened to me, it is nice to know that I have the chance to record what happened so that a court can see."