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Hostage GP calls for violence register

A GP who was held hostage at knifepoint in his practice for nearly seven hours has called for a national register of violent and aggressive patients.

Dr John Aherne said primary care organisations had to ensure patients with a history of violence were not re-allocated to practices without GPs being warned.

He said the incident at his practice in Kettering, North-amptonshire, last month could not have been foreseen, but added PCOs had to do more to protect GPs.

'What has happened has happened,' he said. 'What we need to do is to learn for the future. People of this nature should be identified and told they can no longer avail themselves of normal GMS or PMS services.

'They are, however, entitled to primary care and this should be organised by PCOs in a safe, secure setting, staffed by doctors willing to undertake these duties.'

Dr Aherne warned the new enhanced service for violent patients could create a postcode lottery. He added: 'We are concerned this service may be patchy. Some areas will develop an enhanced service while others will have difficulties arranging them.'

Northamptonshire Heartlands PCT has a scheme where violent patients are seen by their GP in A&E.

A spokeswoman said: 'This can only be used when there is a predictable potential for violence, but exceptional unpredictable situations still arise and have to be handled in the practice.'

Dr Aherne's ordeal ended after seven hours when the man, who was in great pain, told Dr Aherne he would not stop him leaving the room.

Lawrence Mellon, 43, has been charged with kidnap, false imprisonment, possession of a controlled drug and possessing an offensive weapon.

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'I feared I would never see my family again'

Dr John Aherne feared he would never see his wife and three sons again after he was trapped in his partner's consulting room by a patient armed with two knives.

His seven-hour ordeal began when he went to investigate noise in the neighbouring room, only to find an armed man outside the door.

His partner had escaped by jumping out of the window, but Dr Aherne was forced into the room and held captive.

Dr Aherne said the first half hour was the most frightening, because he was uncertain of his captor's intentions. 'I felt extremely uncomfortable. After a few minutes he put the chair against the door and we managed to get some discussion going.'

The man told Dr Aherne he wanted a 'permanent solution' to his chronic back problem, which would mean getting the police to kill him.

'He started giving me details about why he was here. He said he was dissatisfied with the system, the hospital, the pain relief clinic and colleagues at the practice.

'We talked about how he had developed his back problems and we got into his full life history. I felt a lot calmer because we were talking and he was waiting for the police to declare their presence.'

Dr Aherne said he felt compassion for the man. 'I cannot condone what he did but I can empathise with his frustration and desperation,' he said.

'We have got to recognise some people may spend a long time in the system and still find their problems unresolved.'

Dr Aherne said he was determined to get back to normal and began seeing patients just three days later.

But he said going back into the room was 'quite vivid' because the smell of cannabis, which Dr Aherne's captor had used for pain relief during the siege, still lingered.

'I realised I had been through an emotional rollercoaster. I was glad to be out of it and my family were relieved to see me in one piece.'

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