Trusts must work out how they will effectively monitor the use of mobile phones with cameras to ensure they are not used in hospitals to take inappropriate pictures.

Guidance published last week by the Department of Health says trusts should have a clear written policy on the use of mobile and camera phones. All staff should know the policy and signs should leave patients in no doubt about the rules.

The guidance comes as health minister Ben Bradshaw announced that trusts should consider allowing more liberal use of mobile phones in hospitals, as long as it does not interfere with equipment, invade privacy or cause a nuisance.

The department highlights specific risks from the use of camera phones - in particular that they may be used to take inappropriate pictures of children or of confidential information about them, of people in private places such as bathrooms or to create sensitive data about a person's ethnicity or mental health. It also tells trusts to take account of the risk that "an essential medical device may be inadvertently unplugged in order to charge a mobile device".

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Hospitals told to prevent camera phone abuse

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