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Fraud-busters to help GPs in fight against violent patients

The organisation that investigates fraud in the NHS will be able to launch civil legal

actions against patients who physically assault GPs, Pulse has learned.

The NHS Counter Fraud and Security Management Service will take on the powers next month as part of measures designed to reduce the number of incidents against NHS staff.

It will be able to bring a civil action in a case where a criminal prosecution against the violent patient has not been possible because of insufficient evidence.

A spokesman for the counter-fraud service said it would 'support and assist' the Crown Prosecution Service to increase the number of prosecutions of violent patients.

As part of the changes, a national reporting system to register incidents will be established. The system will allow GPs and practice staff to report incidents directly rather than through their PCO and will enable attacks to be categorised according to where they happened, the type of

attack and who was attacked.

Recent Department of Health statistics showed 6,000 incidents against staff in PCTs in England 2001/2, but excluded violence against GPs.

Dr John Grenville, secretary of Derbyshire LMC, said the move would boost GPs' morale. Receptionists at his Derby practice were threatened by a knife-wielding patient last year.

He said: 'Hopefully as cases come to court it will turn into a deterrent. No doubt GPs will put up notices to say all legal avenues will be considered.'

Dr Nicholas Vites, a GP in Oldham who was recently the victim of an anti-semitic attack by a former patient, said GPs were fed up with being vulnerable to attack. He added: 'This gives me confidence that somebody cares.'

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