Dog attack laws to give GPs greater protection

GPs attacked by dogs during home visits could be offered greater legal protection under government plans to rewrite existing legislation.

Dogs: law change could offer GPs more protection on home visits (photo: istock)
Dogs: law change could offer GPs more protection on home visits (photo: istock)

NHS Protect, an organisation set up within the health service to protect staff and resources from crime, has backed government plans to extend laws on dog attacks to cover private property. Current rules fail to offer sufficient protection to medical professionals, the organisation warned.

The Dangerous Dogs Act, introduced in 1991, currently only covers the behaviour of dogs on public land. But the government this month proposed extending this to cover private property, and to make it compulsory for all dogs to be microchipped from 2016.

Head of local support and development services at NHS Protect, Richard Hampton, said: ‘We welcome this proposed change. NHS staff provide essential medical services directly to patients in their homes, either as ongoing care, or responding to an emergency.

'These workers play an invaluable role in the community and it is fundamental that they feel safe and secure in their work, to enable them to perform their duties to the best of their ability, without hindrance or fear of attack.’

There were 59,744 reported assaults against NHS staff in England in 2011/12, but there is no record of how many of these relate to dog attacks.

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