Criminal acts of violence at GP surgeries across the UK have almost doubled in five years, new figures reveal, as doctors’ leaders warn of a perfect storm of soaring demand and staff shortages.
Police are now recording an average of three violent incidents at general practices every day. Staff are facing unprecedented assaults, abuse and aggression by patients, with surgeries struggling to cope with “unmanageable levels of demand” after years of failure to recruit or retain sufficient numbers of family doctors.
Security measures such as CCTV, panic buttons and screens at reception are now increasingly being rolled out across GP surgeries, the Guardian has learned, with senior medics claiming ministers perpetuate a myth that services are “closed”.
Last night, Britain’s two most senior doctors condemned the wave of violence and called for urgent action to finally resolve the workforce crisis.
“It is unacceptable that GPs and their staff are afraid and at risk of being verbally or physically abused, when they are working amid exceptional pressures and striving to do their best for patients,” said Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the British Medical Association. “GP practices are facing unmanageable levels of demand with 2,000 fewer GPs than in 2015.”
He added it was “no surprise” that patients were struggling to get appointments because of the national “lack of capacity” and “lack of historic investment in general practice”.
Source: The Guardian, 31 May 2022