STAFF at a hospital car park are being given personal CCTV cameras in a bid to combat a rapid rise in violence against them.

NHS Lothian said staff working in car parks at St John's Hospital in Livingston, West Lothian, have been subjected to verbal and physical abuse from angry motorists in recent weeks.

One attendant was hit with a walking stick and another had a car driven at them during the recent spate of incidents.

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Health bosses hope the small cameras worn by staff will act as a deterrent to drivers who become aggressive and abusive and will be a "silent witness" against those who break the law.

George Curley, director of operations facilities at NHS Lothian, 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 the clinical care they require while directing general visitors to other areas.

"This abusive behaviour is completely unacceptable and we will not tolerate it."

The health board said it began employing attendants at St John's to help ensure that patients' car parks were used by patients only and not general visitors.

Visitors to the hospital were then directed to other car parks around the site.

When the move began in November, there were two incidents but over December and January the total reached 14, health bosses said.

The state-of-the-art gadgets are the size of a name badge and are being introduced on a trial basis.

The attendants will begin wearing the cameras in the main patient car park from next week.

If the attendant feels threat-ened in a particular situation, they simply turn on the camera which causes a light to appear and a warning that recording is in progress.

If the pilot scheme is successful, it could be extended to other hospitals in NHS Lothian.

Mr Curley, who said unions had backed the move, 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."

So far, the technology has been successfully used by general parking attendants, litter wardens and police officers.

Footage will be stored in secure areas along with other CCTV footage and eventually destroyed.

Last week Glasgow City Council gave taxi drivers in the city permission to install CCTV cameras in their cabs in an attempt to target everything from assaults to fare disputes.

All operators of black cabs and private hire cars in the city can now fit their vehicles with the cameras after the scheme was given the go-ahead following consultation with the trade as well as Scotland's Information Commissioner.

However drivers must warn their customers the are being recorded on camera - verbally as well as in signs.