Employers have a duty of care to support doctors when they are faced with an abusive patient or their guardians/relatives. This guidance from the British Medical Association (BMA) gives background information and steps that all employers and healthcare workers should take when discrimination against a healthcare worker occurs.
The guidance is based on the following key principles:
- All healthcare workers have a right to work in an environment free from abuse, harassment, and unlawful discrimination.
- Employers should take active and explicit steps to protect their staff from abuse, harassment, and unlawful discrimination. This should involve the police and social services where appropriate.
- The impact of discrimination on doctors should be acknowledged and appropriate support including wellbeing interventions provided for those who are on the receiving end of abuse and discriminatory behaviours.
- All patients have a right to emergency healthcare regardless of their behaviour, where this can be provided safely.
- All patients have a right to non-emergency care, but this is conditional.
- There are some instances in healthcare where requesting a personal characteristic of a healthcare worker is valid.