GP locked in consulting room by patient demanding face-to-face diagnosis

A Watford GP was locked in her consulting room this week by a man who refused to leave without a face-to-face diagnosis for his child, according to one of her colleagues.

GP consultations (Photo: Robert Johns/UNP)
GP consultations (Photo: Robert Johns/UNP)

The incident is the latest case of aggression towards practice staff linked to face-to-face access to general practice, and comes just days after a measures billed as a 'support package' ramped up pressure over appointments.

Watford GP Dr Ketan Bhatt said on social media that a parent refused to accept a remote diagnosis of conjunctivitis for his child and turned up to the practice, before locking his colleague in a consulting room until an in-person examination was conducted.

GPs have accused parts of the media of ‘stirring up’ problems around access to in-person consultations, with some saying events like this could require practices to add physical security measures in clinics.

The incident comes just a week after NHS England primary care medical director Dr Nikki Kanani warned that the face-to-face care debate had become ‘too polarised’ and risked driving a wedge between practices and communities.

Aggressive patients

Dr Bhatt took to Twitter to highlight the incident - praising the reaction of his colleague who handled the incident ‘amazingly well’.

People responding to the attack shared their sympathy for the GP who was locked in, and criticised the person responsible. Some GPs said that this sort of behaviour had been encouraged by media campaigns about poor access to services.

Surrey GP Dr Martin Brunet asked if locks should be taken off surgery doors to make sure that family doctors weren’t vulnerable to potential attackers, despite acknowledging that locks were often necessary to ensure privacy during examinations.

Consultant anaesthetist Dr John Gibson suggested that GP practices could soon need security measures similar to those in place at hospitals.

Last month GP leaders requested an emergency summit with the government to discuss ‘unacceptable levels of abuse’ faced by GPs and their staff amid ‘sustained anti-GP campaigns’ in the media.

The meeting followed an attack at a Manchester GP surgery, where a man was charged with assault after four members of staff were injured. It was reported that one GP had been left with a fractured skull.

This week GPs ovewhelmingly rejected the government's plan to help improve access to general practice services, with nine in 10 GPs saying the support oulined by the DHSC was 'unacceptable' and would add to workload.

A separate BMA survey of more than 6,000 GPs in the week before the announcement was made found that more than half of GPs would consider leaving the NHS if the government did not provide them with the support they needed. A further 66% said that they could reduce their current hours.

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