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Violent incidents at GP surgeries double in five years, BMJ investigation finds

BMJ 2022; 377 doi: (Published 31 May 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;377:o1333
  1. Gareth Iacobucci
  1. The BMJ

The number of violent incidents at UK general practices recorded by police forces has almost doubled in the past five years, an investigation by The BMJ has found.

Crime figures obtained from police forces around the UK show that violent incidents at GP surgeries and health centres have increased every year since 2017. Worryingly, the figures also show a near doubling of assaults that cause physical harm.

The rise in violent incidents and abuse aimed at GPs and their staff is causing some to leave their jobs, GPs have warned (boxes 1-3). “We have to try to address this because it leads to burnout of our staff, demoralisation, and staff leaving the service altogether,” said Richard Vautrey, a GP in Leeds and former chair of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee.

Box 1

“He said was going to hurt somebody”

Alan Stout, a GP in east Belfast and chair of the Northern Ireland General Practitioners Committee, told The BMJ how a recent incident of violence at the hands of a patient in March had affected GPs and staff:

“It began with a phone consultation—a patient was looking for additional medication. He got progressively more aggressive throughout the course of the conversation, and it culminated in him saying that he was coming down to the practice there and then and he was going to hurt somebody. So we locked the front door. The staff were in the reception and office area; there was only one doctor on [duty] at the time, and he was in his consulting room.

“The individual then appeared, kicked the locked front door down and stormed in, and then started attacking the door and the window to the reception where the reception staff were. At this point the doctor then had to lock themselves in their room. The police were contacted and subsequently arrived, and he was …

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