Cameras in sufferers’ bedrooms might not scale back the incidence of self-harm


The NHS is more and more turning to expertise as the answer to productiveness and workforce points. In psychological well being companies we’re more and more seeing the event and introduction of applied sciences which hope to enhance psychological well being (see MindTech as an exemplar). Nevertheless, in inpatient psychological well being settings the applied sciences which might be being launched are controversial, akin to physique worn cameras, and surveillance cameras.

On acute psychological well being wards, the incidence of self-harm has risen over latest years, and it’s broadly reported to be probably the most often occurring affected person security incident (Woodnutt et al., 2024).

The present examine Kekic et al., (2024) reported an analysis of whether or not a ‘vision-based affected person monitoring system’ (VBPMS), decreased self-harm in sufferers’ bedrooms.

The expertise, often known as Oxevision, makes use of infra-red delicate cameras in folks’s bedrooms to assist employees visually verify an individual is secure, measuring important indicators – akin to their pulse and respiratory price – with out disturbing their sleep.
– Rethink information story, 30 Nov 2023

On acute mental health wards, the incidence of self-harm has risen over recent years, and it is widely reported to be the most frequently occurring patient safety incident.

On acute psychological well being wards, the incidence of self-harm has risen over latest years, and it’s broadly reported to be probably the most often occurring affected person security incident.


Knowledge had been analysed from 5 quasi-experimental (earlier than/after) research involving 12 intervention and seven management wards at 5 NHS England psychological well being trusts. One examine was handled as analysis with related moral approval, 4 research as service evaluations. Management wards had been allotted in 4 of the research, however not within the fifth examine.

The VBPMS intervention is an “infrared-sensitive digicam, housed in a safe unit in a affected person’s bed room”. It’s greater than a easy surveillance digicam although, because the output from the digicam feeds into a pc system that measures pulse and respiratory charges, in addition to “real-time location-based alerts” so employees can see if a affected person will get away from bed or spends a very long time within the en-suite lavatory. The system can present summaries of exercise information and important indicators to assist clinicians with their planning and decision-making. It will possibly additionally assist employees to “evaluation anonymised (blurred) footage of unwitnessed incidents to tell care responses and facilitate correct documentation of case notes”.

Self-harm charges had been calculated because the variety of incidents per 1,000 occupied days. Change in pre/publish incidence was calculated, together with confidence intervals, through a fixed-effect meta-analysis.


Knowledge on 12 wards throughout 5 Trusts was offered. 5 of those had been female-only wards, one male, and 6 blended (5 of which had been in belief E). Knowledge was collected between 1st January 2018 and thirty first March 2022. 4 Trusts (A-D) had 7 management teams assigned, one Belief (E) didn’t have controls.

In Belief A (already reported in Ndebele et al., 2023), 67% of sufferers consented to participate. In those who lacked capability, their psychiatrist determined if they need to participate. Cameras had been stored off for those who didn’t consent. The truth that two-thirds of sufferers on acute psychological well being wards consented is excessive for this sort of examine. For Trusts B-E implied consent was assumed (or decided by clinicians within the case of objections) as a result of the examine was labeled as a service analysis by the NHS Trusts.  No information was collected on the variety of affected person/carer objections to the examine.

It was reported that there have been each will increase and reduces in bed room self-harm incident charges noticed between the pre- and post- intervals on the intervention wards (vary: −53.4% to 58.0%). Outcomes had been calculated primarily based on relative share change for Trusts A-D, and share change for Belief E. Belief E which contained 5 blended wards, was excluded from the mixed evaluation.

There was substantial variation within the incidence of self-harm between Trusts and wards (from 1.32 to 43.9 incidents per 1,000 bed-days). This was additionally true of the reported relative change in incidence, pre- and post-intervention. Not one of the per-ward relative danger values had been statistically important.

When the outcomes from Trusts A-D had been mixed, they confirmed a statistically important discount in incidence of self-harm of 39% (95% CI 7% to 60%). Nevertheless, when Belief 3 was excluded, as a consequence of its unusually low baseline incidence, the mixed outcome was now not statistically important.

The management group wards’ analysis intervals used a special time-frame, and as a consequence of a excessive variation in charges, a mean of the wards was calculated and used within the evaluation for one Belief. In one other Belief, the identical management ward was used for 2 intervention wards.

Data on the tactic or severity of self-harm was not reported, neither had been the general incident charges of self-harm on the wards.

This is a flawed piece of research that combines heterogenous data from different wards and NHS Trusts.

This can be a flawed piece of analysis that mixes heterogenous information from completely different wards and NHS Trusts.


The researchers declare that their examine exhibits that the Oxehealth affected person monitoring system can be utilized to enhance affected person security in psychological well being hospitals. Nevertheless, this analysis doesn’t reliably display this.

The researchers spotlight the constraints of their very own analysis:

There was massive between-patient variability in self-harm charges—notably for one management ward at Belief C—making it tough to detect statistically important reductions in self-harm charges on a ward by ward foundation.

The meta-analysis confirmed a major discount in bed room self-harm incidents however the mixed statistic must be interpreted with warning because of the comparatively small variety of wards included (N = 7) and the between-study nuances in methodologies (of explicit significance is that Belief A obtained knowledgeable consent for the analysis whereas Trusts D-E had been concerned in service evaluations).

The researchers claim that their study shows that surveillance cameras can be used to improve patient safety in mental health hospitals. However, this research does not reliably demonstrate this.

The researchers declare that their examine exhibits that the Oxehealth affected person monitoring system can be utilized to enhance affected person security in psychological well being hospitals. Nevertheless, this analysis doesn’t reliably display this.


Of the 45 research I’ve critiqued for The Psychological Elf during the last decade, this has been probably the most difficult. Undoubtedly, the intervention is controversial, however my issues are largely because of the examine design and impression on transparency that this causes. For instance, there was no pre-study registration on ISRCTN. There’s a lack of readability in regards to the management wards, for instance, whether or not they had been gender matched, and whether or not there was a random strategy to their choice. That some wards shared the identical management ward, and others didn’t have any controls in any respect, simply provides to the confusion.

There’s a substantial danger of choice bias within the research. It’s seemingly, subsequently, that there are essential variations between the examine individuals and the real-world inhabitants. As famous above, there’s clear proof of heterogeneity between the research, by way of baseline incidence and noticed intervention results.

The strategy to evaluation appears inventive, particularly the usage of completely different time intervals, management averages calculated throughout wards as a consequence of variation, and the exclusion of fifteen ‘outliers’ with out ample element to grasp how this affected the outcomes.

We have to check interventions in the true world and encourage the usage of intention to deal with evaluation, not exclude sufferers as a result of they most often self-harm or are uncovered to coercive interventions. Though evaluation with this information is reported to be included within the appendices.

Differing time intervals are essential, they usually don’t seem to take account of seasonal/annual variation in self-harm and ranges of acuity on wards. On condition that the main target of this examine is solely on bedrooms, we have no idea if self-harm elevated elsewhere as a consequence of the cameras. Neither is there any details about the monitoring of all incidents to grasp different surprising penalties of the intervention. The paper does state that this shall be reported elsewhere. Unusually, the uncooked information isn’t to be made accessible by the authors for others to undertake secondary evaluation.

On the time of penning this weblog, issues have been raised with the editor of the Journal of Psychiatric and Psychological Well being Nursing (the place this paper was revealed) in regards to the non-disclosed battle of curiosity. Neither is there a transparent articulation of the examine funder.  It will possibly solely be assumed that the NHS is paying for the set up of the cameras, and enabling entry to routinely collected information for the needs of economic exploitation.

There is a clear conflict of interest with this study as the researchers are all employed by the company (Oxehealth Limited) that sells the patient monitoring systems to the NHS.

There’s a clear battle of curiosity with this examine because the researchers are all employed by the firm (Oxehealth Restricted) that sells the affected person monitoring methods to the NHS.


There isn’t a doubt that if scientific companies make adjustments then analysis of the impression on sufferers ought to comply with. Nevertheless, more and more high quality enchancment appear to be make substantial adjustments to scientific observe with out due regard for moral ideas. This examine adopted an implied consent strategy, and no different moral implications of the examine or intervention seem to have been thought-about. I fear that implied consent doesn’t take account of capability points, or give sufferers option to choose out of a examine. This examine strategy is in distinction with suggestions for moral conduct of high quality enchancment research (Hunt et al., 2021). Ideally testing the efficacy of recent interventions must be handled as analysis, and rigorously trialled. On condition that this examine doesn’t seem to indicate a distinction pre-post, is it roughly efficient than observations or different interventions used on acute psychological well being wards to maintain sufferers secure?

The introduction of expertise shouldn’t be with out controversy, and affected person selection and consideration of the Human Rights Act appear to be a central pillars that we have to uphold. We’re already seeing reviews that cameras are usually not holding sufferers as secure as they had been supposed. Issues have been expressed by Stopoxevision (2024) in regards to the impression of surveillance on psychological well being and human rights. These are seemingly not accounted for on this examine, regardless of assurances by NHS England in 2023 that the implementation must be lawful. Nevertheless, the choice of utilizing employees to watch sufferers inside line of sight eye shouldn’t be with out issues. This function is usually delegated to employees with the least coaching, or these employed by means of financial institution/businesses.

With out conducting thorough and clear research which adhere to the requirements of reporting, we’re unable to make claims in regards to the effectiveness of interventions.

It is encouraging to see published research papers evaluating the patient monitoring systems that are being rolled out in many NHS Trusts, but better quality studies are needed before we can be sure that these systems are safe and effective.

It’s encouraging to see revealed analysis papers evaluating the affected person monitoring methods which might be being rolled out in lots of NHS Trusts, however higher high quality research are wanted earlier than we are able to make certain that these methods are secure and efficient.


Main paper

Kekic, M., Rose, A., Baker, C., & Bayley, D. (2024). Diminished self-harm on acute psychological well being wards following the implementation of a vision-based affected person monitoring system: Proof from 5 NHS trusts. Journal of Psychiatric and Psychological Well being Nursing, 00, 1–9.

Different references

Hunt DF, Dunn M, Harrison G, et al (2021) Moral issues in high quality enchancment: key questions and a sensible information. BMJ Open High quality 2021.

Stopoxevision (2024) Presentation at NHS England Digital Applied sciences convention, Sheffield, accessible from

Woodnutt S, Corridor S, Libberton P, Flynn M, Purvis Snowden J (2024) Evaluation of England’s incident and psychological well being nursing workforce information 2015–2022. Journal of Psychiatric and Psychological Well being Nursing.


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