GP contract strengthens protection against violent patients

GP practices have been handed clearer powers to refuse to register violent patients under the GMS contract for 2018/19.

Violent patient (Photo: JH Lancy)
Violent patient (Photo: JH Lancy)

The revised contract clarifies that GP practices can refuse to register people with a 'violent patient' flag on their medical record, under existing rules that allow them to turn away patients where there are 'reasonable grounds' for doing so.

Following talks on the 2018/19 GP deal, NHS England and the GPC agreed that where patients are flagged as violent, this constitutes reasonable grounds for a practice to turn them away. Patients whose records carry this warning can also be removed from practice lists if they are registered by mistake.

The clarification comes after a GPonline poll earlier this year revealed that GPs face a growing risk from violent patients. One in three GPs have felt threatened by a patient and one in six say they or a colleague have been attacked in their practice in the past year.

GP leaders have been calling for some time for tougher rules to protect practice staff against patients who have a history of violence in NHS services.

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Guidance on the revised contract from the BMA and NHS Employers says that patients refused registration or removed from practice lists under violent patient rules will be able to access general practice services through the national 'special allocation scheme’.

NHS Employers guidance says: 'Where patients are removed under violent patient provisions, further care will be managed in line with agreed national policies, including where appropriate special allocation schemes.'

Responding to GPonline's findings earlier this year, GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'Any violent or threatening incident towards a GP or member of the practice team is one too many, but for so many GPs to report this type of incidents in the last year shows the impact of being on the front line of the NHS.

'Many practices operate zero tolerance policies but they don’t always feel that they are properly supported by local commissioners. We all need to do more to make it clear to patients that threatening and violent behaviour will not be tolerated and that robust action will be taken if it occurs.'

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