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Survey shows high levels of abuse of UK doctors by patients

More than half of UK doctors have seen or experienced abuse by patients or their relatives in the last year, including incidents in which they have been spat at and threatened.

Doctors have variously had their hair ripped out, been backed up against a wall and been racially abused, a survey and dossier of testimonies collated by a medical organisation has revealed.

Long delays for care and staff shortages are cited as the main triggers for what NHS leaders say is an increased readiness by the public to be aggressive towards frontline staff.

The research by the Medical Protection Society (MPS) found that 56% of the doctors questioned had experienced or witnessed a situation involving verbal or physical abuse over the last year.

Almost half said incidents had occurred because of a lack of staff, while 45% blamed it on patients’ frustration at having to wait a long time to be treated.

One doctor told the MPS how a “patient’s partner threatened to kill me as he felt his wife had waited too long to be seen”, while another said: “I had a handful of my hair ripped out despite the patient being in handcuffs and with the police.”

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Source: The Guardian, 22 June 2023


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