A Croydon paramedic says wearing a body camera makes him "feel safer" after he was violently attacked whilst on duty.

Emergency Ambulance Crew member Gary Watson, who works for London Ambulance Service in Croydon, took part in a pilot which saw ambulance staff in London and the North East trial the cameras.

Following the successful pilot, the NHS is rolling out body cams to frontline ambulance staff across the country in a bid to curb violence against staff.

Medics will wear the cameras and be able to press a button to start recording if patients or the public became aggressive or abusive, with filming made available to police where needed.

It comes after data from the NHS in England showed that 3,569 ambulance staff reported being assaulted in 2020/21 – a 32% rise from five years previously.

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The NHS said the trials showed that the cameras can assist in de-escalating situations where staff are faced with someone being aggressive towards them.

Croydon paramedic Gary Watson was violently assaulted by a drunk patient in 2018 while on duty. He suffered a torn ligament and serious injuries to his face, throat and neck in the attack.

Two other medics were also injured and a fourth badly shaken. A man was convicted, receiving a suspended sentence.

Speaking about the trial, he said: “These cameras are needed, and wearing one makes me feel safer.

"They act as a deterrent and will also help provide evidence if there is an attack.

“We go to work to help people, not to be assaulted. It’s disgusting that a minority think it’s OK to behave in such a violent way.”

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Prerana Issar, chief people officer for the NHS in England, said: “Every member of our dedicated and hardworking NHS staff has the fundamental right to be safe at work and it is our priority to eliminate violence and abuse, which we will not tolerate.

“As well as reducing the number of incidents towards our staff, these cameras are a vital step towards ensuring our people feel safe too.

“The fact that we are rolling them out to all ten ambulance trusts three years ahead of schedule is testament to our commitment to tackling this problem and is nothing less than our staff deserve.”

Commenting on the announcement, Unison’s deputy head of health, Helga Pile, said: “Ambulance staff who’re looking after sick and vulnerable patients should never have to face violence and abuse while doing their jobs. Body cameras can help to ensure their safety and bring attackers to justice.”

The move follows an initiative launched earlier this year which tasked every NHS trust in the country to publish a plan to tackle violence towards staff.