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Violence and aggression from patients on the rise say GPs

Almost half (46%) of GP believe that patients have become more aggressive of violent in the past five years, a survey by the Medical Protection Society has found.

The survey of 254 GP members found that 51% had experienced violence or aggression from patients in the past five years and a third of those accepted that this was part of their job.

The vast majority (82%) of GPs noted any violent or aggressive behaviour in the patient record, and 59% went on to try and resolve this with the patient – one in five GPs reported the incident to the police.

And while the majority sought support from by colleagues or practice management, 14% of GPs said they did not access any professional support after experiencing violence or aggression.

Dr Richenda Tisdale, medicolegal adviser at MPS, said NHS England needed to do recognise the strain this placed on the profession and do more to support and empower practices.

Dr Tisdale said: ‘It is understandable that patients may be anxious about their health and these emotions can be overwhelming, especially if their expectations cannot be met. However, no doctor should have to be on the receiving end of violent or aggressive behaviour as a result.’

Readers' comments (10)

  • More aggression and violence everywhere in this country.

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  • Just had this one again who came into the Surgery and thumped a fist on the Receptionist making her jump as 'you have again messed up my medication'

    Called the angry parent and calmly explained that we had had a confusing request of a third insulin while his child was on two insulins as per consultant letter. He was quite angry and loud and began about some other script a few months ago - which had apparently got messed up. And then it went on to 'Your bloody surgery.... At this point, reminded him that he was an adult and it was not acceptable that he become aggressive verbally or thump fists on the receptionist desks. He said he is going to make a complaint and I just said I would be happy for him to do that.
    Will anybody be on my side when the complaint comes in - if it does. Should I call my indemnifier and risk having my premium jacked up by another 7 000 next year. It was increased by 6300 this year. Or should I just show a middle finger to the powers to be, patient included and let Hunt see my patients.
    I think the time is coming and we have to make difficult decisions. You can't be working to pay 15-30k premiums to feed parasitic indemnity providers and accept abuse from patients who feel they have a birth right to be pampered and to scream at NHS staff.

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  • Zero tolerance to violence, verbal or physical, of any sort. Write warnding and then off the list. If you call the police, you kick them off without warning. End of.

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  • Why oh why dear colleagues do you put up with this garbage?

    Ex partner from England now safely relocated on the other side of the world where if a patient dares to disrespect, threaten or behave in an approximate manner they are promptly "fired" and can go and find another doctor..........

    Best thing I ever did was to leave a system where I was treated like trash by entitled individuals, many of whom put nowt into the system they claimed they owned!!

    If you keep being a punch bag they will keep hitting you.....because you can't strike back...

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  • Failed leadership of the profession of regulators, unions and senior doctors with a lack of spine has allowed this to happen.

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  • This is another reason why GPs need to go private, form their own union and explore setting up another regulator that is fit for purpose.

    In any sensible system, a complaint from a patient under such circumstances to the above would be given short shrift. But not when the balance of power has shifted so far from GPs to the point where their position is untenable.

    This is a major reason behind the shortage of GPs. The minority of people who behave like this are causing disproportionate damage to everyone else who behaves well and need GPs and the NHS.

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  • 1.33
    I am running fast behind you....that is leaving. I used to think that I was the only person in GP land who thinks GP is akin to slavery

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  • If I was to go into my local supermarket and be abusive, I am certain that I would be thrown out. In GP land try doing that to an abusive patient and you could well be disciplined. It is only in the NHS were it is okay to be abusive to health professionnel.

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  • Our public is entitled to blast GPs whenever and in what ever way they want. We as doctors still have to obediently do what we are commanded by our patients. After all put the patient forward. Is this not what the RCGP mentors??

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  • There is simply no point writing all of these articles week after week. NOTHING will change until whoever is in power simply grows a pair and makes it very clear to to all that healthcare can no longer be an automatic entitlement in the way it has been in the past. Patients need to start getting their priorities right and instead of paying for cigarettes, alcohol, body art and other luxury items that you cannot afford ( dare I say it this includes having children you cannot afford to raise) put the money towards a private healh policy . If you then have anything left over then perhaps you can think about these luxuries later.

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