NI GPs are given personal alarms

More than 12,000 panic alarms have been sent out to front-line NHS staff and GPs in Northern Ireland this week, following a rise in complaints about violent patients.

A BMA Northern Ireland survey in November found almost half of the 1,000 staff and GPs quizzed had been attacked in the previous 12 months. A quarter said the problem of violent patients had become considerably worse over the past year.

BMA Northern Ireland chairman Dr Brian Patterson said: 'The paradox is that, during 30 years of 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland, it was rare to see GPs and hospital staff being attacked but now we have peace it has become endemic.

'The alarms unfortunately are necessary especially for lone workers. We carried out the survey because we needed concrete rather than anecdotal evidence and I am pleased that the government has done something about it,' he added.

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