Exclusive Four in ten GPs have suspicions that an elderly or infirm patient has been abused by their carer, a Pulse survey reveals.
The poll of 290 GPs found that 41% believe one or more of their patients has been subject to abuse. Some 56% said they had not encountered any cases of abuse, while 3% were unsure.
The findings follow an intense focus on social care abuse, as a result of BBC Panorama's exposure of the systematic abuse of patients with learning disabilities at the Winterbourne View hospital.
Last month Pulse revealed that the GMC is tracking down GPs who had contact with Winterbourne View to establish if any doctors witnessed evidence of malpractice. At the time GMC deputy chief executive Paul Philip reminded GPs they ‘have a duty to act' if they suspect abuse.
Dr Krishna Korlipara, a GP in Bolton and former GMC member, said: ‘Abuse is not widespread but it is definitely a problem. I myself have seen elderly patients where there were signs they had been abused by carers.'
‘There are some carers who treat patients with absolute disdain because they don't have the patience that you require to deal with vulnerable and elderly patients.'
'Until care operators acknowledge that and act on it, we will continue to bury our head in the sands. GPs have to follow-up on any suspicions of abuse – it is a problem that can get swept under the carpet all too easily.'