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Confrontations at GP surgeries on rise due to service pressures

Staff at GP surgeries are facing increasing levels of violence, harassment and threatening behaviour, an investigation has found, a rise blamed on the service being under greater pressure.

Staff at GP surgeries are facing increasing levels of violence, harassment and threatening behaviour, an investigation has found, a rise blamed on the service being under greater pressure

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Staff at GP surgeries are facing increasing levels of violence, harassment and threatening behaviour, an investigation has found.

The BMJ obtained figures via freedom of information requests to police forces across England and Wales, receiving 29 responses that showed the number of incidents increased to 2,147 in 2016-17, up from 1,974 in 2015-16.

This is in line with an overall 10% increase in the number of recorded crimes in England and Wales last year.

Of the figures relating to GP surgeries, assaults rose by 5% (up from 324 to 339), there was a 34% increase in cases of harassment (up from 41 to 55) and 90% in public order offences (up from 169 to 321).

There were 75 sexual offences, up two on the previous year.

Less time

GP leaders claim the risk of confrontation increased as patients found it harder to get an appointment or access services.

Chair of the BMA’s general practitioners committee Richard Vautrey, a GP in Leeds, said: ‘As the whole service comes under greater pressure, that boils over into confrontational situations more frequently, because GPs and their staff have less time to deal with patients who are distressed or are in difficulty or not getting what they want.

'It just shows that frontline staff, particularly those on reception and doctors and nurses who are in direct contact with patients every day, are potentially at increased risk as a result of these pressures that have been building up over recent years.’


Iacobucci G (2017) Violent crime at GP surgeries is on the rise, figures show. BMJ. doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j4236

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