Exclusive The Leicestershire police commissioner recently reached out to local GP leaders due to concerns about rising levels of abuse at practices.
Police and crime commissioner Rupert Matthews arranged a meeting with the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) LMC towards the end of last year to discuss an approach to tackle this.
LMC chair Dr Grant Ingrams said the commissioner ‘had noticed the number of increased calls the police were getting from practices’.
One idea raised at the recent meeting to tackle this was to ask GP practices to ‘report absolutely everything’ for a ‘limited time’ in order to ‘make an example of this’, according to Dr Ingrams.
Data obtained by Pulse via the Freedom of Information Act showed that for Leicestershire Police the number of callouts associated with violent behaviour at GP practices increased by 150% over the pandemic, jumping from 10 total callouts in 2019 to 25 in 2022.
And, over the same period, the number of recorded crimes for criminal damage and public order offences increased by 80% and 50% respectively.
Mr Matthews told Pulse: ‘Some concerns were brought to my attention about disruption in a couple of GP surgeries. I attended a meeting to discuss these issues, following which I asked the relevant local policing teams if these problems had been reported.
‘They were aware of some issues with an intoxicated person in one location and another situation elsewhere that has since been resolved.
‘I firmly believe that there is no place for any disruptive behaviour in a doctor’s surgery or anywhere else for that matter and I am pleased that our local officers acted quickly and effectively.’
He also said he has received no further reports of incidents at GP practices since the meeting.
However, according to Dr Ingrams, the conversation between the LMC and the commissioner is ongoing.
Speaking to Pulse, Dr Ingrams said of Mr Matthews: ‘Initially he wanted to talk to us to see if we thought it was a problem and why, and for him to discuss approach.
‘One of the things he was thinking about – because they know that only a small proportion of these sort of instances get reported – was for a limited time to say “please report absolutely everything” because we want to try to make an example of this, and then for a short while we’ll make a push at investigating and prosecuting and those things which hopefully put people off.’
Dr Ingrams said at his own practice he has lost two members of reception staff who ‘said that part of the reason they left is because they couldn’t cope with the abuse from patients anymore’.
And in February last year, the Metropolitan Police started working with Londonwide LMCs to produce guidance for GP practices on how to minimise violence towards staff following the LMC expressing concerns about rising levels of patient abuse.