LONDON. May 10. KAZINFORM The NHS is set to start using cameras in hospital wards to monitor staff behaviour in a bid to reduce hospital-acquired infections, drive up the quality of care and improve patient safety.
Two hospital trusts have agreed to introduce the technology, which has triggered concern among staff about being constantly watched as they work, and raised issues about how to protect patients' confidentiality, the Guardian reports.
The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen university hospitals NHS trust will become the first NHS organisation to install cameras in a move that could change healthcare workers' relationships with patients and with their employers.
The trust has struck a deal with US technology firm Arrowsight, and ADT Security Services, to put 30 cameras into the intensive care unit, kidney dialysis department and an operating theatre of the city's Royal Liverpool university hospital.
The trust's management admits that the move, expected to be implemented in the autumn, has prompted "apprehension and suspicion" among affected staff. But it is expecting the cameras to lead to better care for some more vulnerable patients, fewer cases of MRSA and Clostridium difficile (C difficile), and a reduced risk of surgical staff making a blunder when performing a procedure. Managers believe that patients and their families will welcome the presence of a watchful eye and staff will be motivated to always follow the best clinical procedures.
The trust will undertake a three-month free-of-charge pilot before deciding whether to make this surveillance of working practices permanent. Its first-year cost would be close on £200,000 for the cameras and monitoring services if it leased the 30 cameras. If it did not put them in the operating theatre the first year cost would fall to around £37,000.
The scheme could turn out to be a trailblazer for the NHS. Central Manchester university hospitals NHS foundation trust is also planning to test the technology in a large ward at Manchester Royal infirmary. Other trusts have had discussions with Arrowsight and ADT, and a third pilot, in London, is expected to be confirmed soon.
Cameras in the four-bed post-operative care unit of Royal Liverpool hospital's intensive care unit will check if staff are washing their hands before they dress wounds, give medication, and insert or remove intravenous lines from patients. Diane Wake, the trust's chief operating officer and executive nurse, says: "The cameras will also monitor how often staff move patients in bed who are usually immobile and may sometimes be on a ventilator, and whether they used the right techniques. That's to reduce the risk of the patient getting either pressure ulcers or an infection, especially ventilator-acquired pneumonia."
Signs will alert patients and their families to the cameras' presence, and no one's care will be monitored without their written consent. "This will give patients and visitors extra reassurance that we really take care and safety very seriously," says Wake.
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