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GPs at risk by being kept in dark on violent patients

GPs in Wales are being placed at increased risk of attack because local health boards are not telling them when violent patients are removed from a practice's list.

The lack of information means GPs are taking on patients without knowing they have a history of

violence against NHS staff.

Dr David Bailey, deputy-chair of GPC Wales, said he had written to five health boards in south Wales to get them to change their policy.

The boards – Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen – have argued that passing on the details of incidents in other practices would be a violation of patients' human rights.

But Dr Bailey said GPs' right to work without threat of attack or injury was at stake. 'We are very concerned they are not informing people,' he said. 'GPs have an absolute right to know [if a patient has been violent]. If you've not got information in advance you may in all innocence take them on and inadvertently put yourself at risk.

'The business services centre say they will notify practice managers that patients are registered ''elsewhere'' but that might be a week down the line.'

Dr Bailey, a GP in Cadeirdydd, Gwent, added that local health boards' stance was hypocritical because practices were informed if patients were suspected drug addicts.

Gwent local health board said it had asked for legal advice over whether it could pass on details to GPs.

A spokeswoman said: 'We are sympathetic to the rights of GPs to be aware of potentially violent patients, but equally we need to ensure we are protecting the human rights of patients who may not have been convicted of any offence.'

The Welsh Assembly said it was looking into the issue after it

was raised by the GPC at a recent meeting.

By Ian Cameron

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