Car parking attendants at a Scottish hospital are to begin wearing CCTV cameras following a spate of attacks by drivers.
The staff working at car parks in St John’s Hospital, Livingston, will wear the state-of-the-art gadgets as part of a new trial to prevent violence and aggression, which NHS Lothian described as “ground-breaking”.
The decision was taken to introduce the cameras after car park workers were sujected to verbal and physical abuse from angry motorists as they tried to free-up parking spaces for patients and keep emergency routes clear.
In one incident an attendant was hit with a walking stick, while another had a car driven at them during a recent series of attacks.
It is hoped the little cameras - the size of a name badge - will act as a deterrent to drivers who become aggressive and abusive and act as a “silent witness” against those who break the law, NHS Lothian said.
George Curley, Director of Operations-Facilities at the board, said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach to violence and aggression in the workplace and a duty to protect our workforce.
“These car parking attendants are performing a vital function by ensuring that patients can park and receive clinical care they require while directing general visitors to other areas.
“This abusive behaviour is completely unacceptable and we will not tolerate it.”
Attendants have been employed to work at St John’s Hospital to help make sure that patients’ car parks are used only by patients and not general visitors.
The board said the move was designed to help patients attend hospital to receive the care they required and prevent missed appointments.
General visitors to the hospital were then directed to other car parks around the site.
But since the move in November, NHS Lothian said there had been a rapid rise in the number of aggressive and violent incidents in recent weeks.
In November, just two incidents of aggression were reported. But over the course of December and January the total has now reached 14.
The attendants are set to start wearing the cameras in the main patient car park from next week as they direct cars around the site.
As part of the trial if the parking attendant feels threatened in a particular situation, they simply turn on the camera which causes a light to appear and a warning that recording is in progress.
Mr Curley added: “Some of these drivers think that because no-one else is around to witness their unacceptable behaviour that they will get away with it. That will no longer be the case.”
The board said that if the pilot scheme was successful it could be rolled out to other hospitals.
The technology has been successfully used by elsewhere by general parking attendants, litter wardens and police officers.