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Independents' Day

GPs miss out on attack alarms

By Nigel Praities

Two brutal attacks on GPs in their surgeries have intensified calls for more protection for vulnerable doctors working late to fulfil their extended hours DES.

The calls come after a Scottish GP relived the horror of being repeatedly stabbed in her surgery by a patient .

In the same week the NHS body responsible for issuing personal alarms to healthcare workers, under a £97m Government plan to protect front line staff, admitted it had failed to issue a single one.

The GPC says the terms of the extended access DES will leave many more GPs working alone in the evenings and at greater risk of assault.

The potential danger was dramatically illustrated by the case of patient Ian MacGregor , cleared last week of a horrific attack on his GP, on the grounds of insanity.

The victim, Glasgow GP Dr Helen Jackson was struck on the chest wall, left breast and on her right hand, when he attacked her with a knife. Speaking about the incident in the High Court in Glasgow, Dr Jackson said: 'I was so shocked I fell. I was repeatedly struck while I was on the floor. I was terrified. I was trying to get away from him. I kept my eyes shut.'

The attack on Dr Jackson was followed by another assault in Glasgow, with GP Dr Arun Rai attacked at Clydesdale Health Centre weeks later by a patient.

Dr Barbara West, medical secretary of Glasgow LMC, said the attacks had rattled GPs in the area and they were greatly concerned about the introduction of the extended hours DES.

‘This is going to become much more of a problem and it is really worrying,' she said.

In an effort to mitigate attacks on healthcare workers, the government announced a £97 million scheme, including proposals to supply personal attack alarms to healthcare workers, last November.

But a spokesperson from the NHS Security Management Service this week refused to say if the alarms will be given to GPs and revealed to Pulse no alarms have been issued to anyone as yet.

The organisation has, however, launched a poster campaign. (pictured)

Dr West said a personal attack alarm could have helped rescue Dr Jackson escape injury and that many GPs in Glasgow had asked the local health board for alarms to defend themselves after the incident.

‘A personal attack alarm is a good idea because hopefully you are more of a position to activate it than perhaps a panic button.

That was one of the things that Dr Jackson couldn't do, she couldn't get to a panic button,' she said.

GPs at risk GPs at risk

August 07 – Pulse survey finds one in three GPs have been physically attacked by a patient and this was not reported in 60% of cases

Oct 07 – Health Secretary Alan Johnson promises £97m funding to protect frontline healthcare workers from violent patients

Nov 07 – Pulse reveals many GPs may miss out on the 30,000 personal attack alarms distributed by PCTs
Jan 08 – Pulse survey reveals 5% of GPs have been attacked by a mentally ill patient in the previous 12

Jan 08 – BMA survey shows 2.7% of GPs have been the victim of a physical or verbal attack in the past

Apr 08 – NHS Security Management Service reveals no personal alarms have been issued

Attacks on GPs: NHS bosses have issued posters but no alarms Attacks on GPs: NHS bosses have issued posters but no alarms

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