Exclusive: LMC calls for reform of violent patient rules that 'put staff at risk'

An LMC has called for reform of 'unreasonable' regulations that block practices from banning patients that have a history of violence in other care settings.

Violent patient: GPs call for more protection (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)
Violent patient: GPs call for more protection (Photo: Jason Heath Lancy)

Dr John Grenville, a GP and secretary of Derbyshire LMC, said the violent patient scheme regulations meant a practice had to wait until such a patient was violent or threatening towards their own surgery staff before he or she could be referred to a secure environment for care.

He told GP the current regulations were putting practice staff at risk.

Derbyshire LMC brought an unheard motion on the issue to the UK LMC conference in York in May. However, GPs at the conference did warn that the principle of zero tolerance towards abusive patients was under threat from a lack of support from NHS management and an uncooperative ombudsman.

Dr Grenville said he was aware of several cases where patients had been banned from specialist psychiatric services due to violent behaviour, yet were still able to register with mainstream general practice.

He said: ‘We feel that when another part of the health service has identified someone as having exhibited, or being at risk of exhibiting, violence to that degree, then all healthcare settings should receive that message.’

GP previously revealed how practices were not being warned when patients with a history of violence in other practices signed up at their surgery.

A GP survey at the time revealed that the majority (79%) of GPs have felt threatened in their own practice at some point in their career, and over a quarter (27%) in the last year alone.

Dr Grenville said most people, even those with histories of violence, ‘tend to be able to restrain themselves in a healthcare setting’.

But if they were capable of being violent in one setting, they could easily do the same in others, he warned.

He called on NHS England to do more to protect GPs from dangerous patients, and to alert all healthcare sectors when patients had been violent within healthcare settings.

Dr Grenville said: ‘NHS England should be making arrangements for [violent patients] to be seen in safer environments than mainstream general practice, as in the violent patient scheme.’

NHS England had yet to respond at the time of publication.

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