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GPs should refuse dangerous visits without police back-up

I read with interest Dr Charles Gould's experiences headlined 'Attacked by bayonet wielding maniac, I'm the one in trouble!'

(May 5).

At the time of his GMC appearance, I remember hearing the tabloid way our local media reported the case. Visions of a deranged GP attacking his patients with a frying pan were directed across the ether.

I met Dr Gould a few years back at a meeting and I am sure the good doctor will not mind me saying that, should Arnie not be available for the next Terminator film, it is unlikely he will be asked to step in.

But two issues arise from his distressing and humiliating experience.

·We are totally unprotected when attending psychiatric cases. Post-Shipman, it seems to be open season on GPs and one wonders how advisable it is for us to attend potentially violent patients. And I have found the police increasingly reluctant to attend cases where formal admission is required.

·We are bound by the 'consent' rule to such

a degree that a doctor is unable to defend him or herself against spurious allegations, even when others, including the patient, can say what they like.

It is a lesson to us all to consider our own safety above all else when dealing with such cases. Once we have deemed the patient to be a risk under the mental health Act, the best policy is to allow others to remove the patient to a place of safety.

Manpower issues surrounding the police are not our problem, and we should never enter unless we are happy there is sufficiency back-up. I for one will not be placing myself in situations I may have done in the past, given the shoddy treatment of this senior and experienced GP.

Dr Michael Johnson

Belfast

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