Five charts that show how violent patients affect GPs

One in six GPs have either been attacked or seen a colleague attacked in their practice within the past year, a GPonline poll reveals. Five charts below explore GPs' experiences and whether they feel safe.

Violent patient (Photo: iStock)
Violent patient (Photo: iStock)

Findings from the latest GPonline opinion poll suggest that GPs are fairly likely to experience violence or abuse either directly or aimed at other members of staff in their practice. One in six - 15.9% - of all GPs said they had either been attacked or had a colleague in their practice attacked within the past year.

Overall, 3.1% of GPs responding to the poll said they personally had been attacked in their practice within the past year - suggesting that nationally as many as 1,240 of the roughly 40,000 GPs currently working in GP practices in England have been attacked. Adding in home visits could take this figure up to around 1,320 GPs who have faced attacks.

Many more GPs say they have felt threatened - with a third saying that within the last year they have felt threatened by a patient in their practice. GPs appear to be less likely to feel threatened during home visits, with just 8.1% saying they had felt this way in the past year, mirroring the lower rate of attacks reported during home visits. Locums were significantly more likely to feel threatened than salaried GPs or partners.

The greater threat perceived by locums translates clearly into how safe they feel, with a significantly lower proportion of locums reporting that they feel safe working in general practice than other GP types. Partners were the most likely to feel safe.

Fewer than one in 10 GP partners said they had never had to remove a patient from their practice list for being violent or abusive, while 44.5% had done so within the past year.

Among all GPs, just 29% felt that systems to help GP practices cope with violent patients in their area were adequate. Partners were the most likely to have a clear view on this - with 40.5% saying that systems to help practices cope were not adequate, and just 31.2% saying they were.

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