Heatherwood & Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Trust is an acute trust based in east Berkshire. The Trust has two main hospital sites, Heatherwood in Ascot and Wexham Park in Slough, and four subsidiary clinic sites. It has initiated a series of security measures aimed at improving security for patients, staff and hospital visitors.
Kay Loudon-Bruce, Head of Security at the Trust explains, "The genesis of the security system was in 1999 when we had had a number of thefts from cars in our car parks at the main sites. We wanted to develop a system that would act as a deterrent to those contemplating crime on our sites, but also a system that would be able to detect crime and identify those that were perpetrating it. It was also important that any system helped to reduce the fear of crime experienced by staff and patients." Issues identified during the security review included patient safety, potential infant abduction, car crime, IT theft and general petty theft.
To help develop an appropriate security solution, Heatherwood & Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Trust sought the advice of security specialists Goodwill Associates Limited. Goodwill Associates is an independent security consultancy that specializes in CCTV and integrated security solutions. Its customers include a number of public sector clients in health and local government. Says Kay Loudon-Bruce, "We used the Home Office PSDB CCTV guidelines as the start point, and then we used a security consultancy, Goodwill Associates, who worked very closely with us to advise us on what would be required."
Derek Williams, Managing Director of Goodwill Associates takes up the story; "We were asked to design a CCTV system to monitor the car parks and also the public areas within the hospital. The aim was to cut theft and vandalism from the car parks and also to help deter and control other types of unacceptable activities around the open area outside the A&E departments and within some indoor public areas of the hospital to tackle unruly, disorderly or antisocial behaviour. "Given that there were two main hospital sites our advice was to get operational control into a single location and to get CCTV monitoring into one room for the two sites."
"The camera system was specified to conform to the Home Office, PSDB operational requirement methodology. We specified the size and quality of the images at operational distances so as to be fit for purpose." The plan that was developed involved a combination of security measures including access control, staff ID measures, infant tagging, manned guarding and CCTV. The NHS Trust provided funding for the project internally. One of the key components of the plan was a data transmission link to bring back CCTV camera images from Heatherwood Hospital to the new CCTV monitoring room established at Wexham Park. The design for the nine cameras at the Heatherwood site called for a permanent and secure transmission path to be established between the two sites, of sufficient bandwidth to carry continuous feeds of live broadcast quality CCTV images from all of the cameras simultaneously. "The 13 mile distance between the two dictated that a fibre optic link was necessary. Other alternatives were not practical - either because of the distance or due to other factors. The sites are south of Heathrow airport so microwave transmission would have been difficult. Fibre was really the only practical way we could transmit live pictures of the quality we wanted," says Derek Williams.
There are now 51 cameras located at Heatherwood and Wexham Park hospitals. Of these, 26 monitor the exterior of the buildings and the grounds and 25 monitor internal areas within the hospital buildings. Explains Kay Loudon-Bruce; "The cameras are mainly in the public areas such as the A&E waiting areas and corridors - but not in the treatment areas. When the security system was first implemented the number of incidents actually increased - not because the actual number of incidents had increased, but because the improved security programme was now able to identify incidents that had previously been going undetected."
Says Kay Loudon-Bruce; "The CCTV system has proved very useful as a tool to support our security staff, both in terms of their own safety and also in terms of providing information to help us to quickly deploy them at the right spots during any incident. We also work closely with the police - and we are usually able to supply them with CCTV image tapes whenever there is an incident." The solution at Heatherwood & Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Trust is now under review for further development, enhancement and integration.