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Primary care staff increasingly facing physical assaults

The proportion of primary care staff assaulted at work has more than doubled in two years, new data has revealed.

In 2013/14, there were 1,731 reported assaults on primary care staff, amounting to 24 per 1,000 registered staff, which resulted in seven criminal sanctions. This was a significant increase on 2011/12 figures, where there were nine assaults per 1,000 staff.

Across NHS staff in 2013/14, there was a rise of 8.7% in total reported assaults from 63,199 in 2012/13 to 68,683 in 2013/14, leading to 1,649 criminal sanctions.

NHS Protect, which gathers the data, said data was missing for 2012/13 because PCTs were abolished.

Richard Hampton, NHS Protect head of external engagement and services, said: ‘No NHS staff should be physically assaulted and we encourage staff who are victims of violence to press charges against assailants. Those who work in the NHS have the right to provide care in a safe environment. Employers must do all they can to support staff in preventing incidents and pursuing offenders.’

The BMA backed efforts to increase the number of criminal convictions for culprits found guilty of assaulting GPs and their staff, with GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey warning that as resource-strapped GPs find it tougher and tougher to meet patient demands, ‘the risk that patients take out their frustration on those who are trying to help them increases’.

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