Violent patient removals are highest in North West SHA

Eight per cent increase in the number of patients removed from GP lists due to aggression and violence.

The North West of England has the highest number of patients removed from GP lists due to an act or threat of violence, according to government figures.

A written parliamentary answer reveals that 267 patients were removed in the SHA area in 2005/6, compared with 207 in 2004/5, a rise of 29 per cent.

London was second worst with 224, East of England third with 170, Yorkshire and the Humber fourth with 135 and the South West fifth with 92. The area with the lowest such removals was South Central with 39.

The number of such removals across England rose from 1,101 in 2004/5 to 1,190 in 2005/6, a total of 8.1 per cent.

The figures were compiled by the DoH's Information Centre for Health and Social Care.

Their publication follows an announcement last year by health secretary Alan Johnson that GPs and practice staff who make home visits could be given personal panic alarms to alert police and security staff if they feel they are in danger of being attacked by violent patients (GP, 5 October 2007).

A sum of £97 million had been set aside in England for a series of initiatives including 30,000 satellite-linked devices, although PCTs were given discretion about whether to fund equipment for GPs.

Dr Rob Barnett, Liverpool LMC secretary, said: 'I can't understand why the North West would be different from anywhere else. I'm shocked to hear it's the worst.'

He said he knew of no PCTs that were funding panic alarms for GPs and that it was an issue that should be looked into.

Asked whether GPs would benefit from panic alarms, he said: 'I think it would be sensible. Security issues generally need to be taken seriously.

'There are problems with people being aggressive and violent. Attacks and assaults are undoubtedly on the increase.'

A North West SHA spokesman was unavailable for comment.

The parliamentary answer includes figures for each year dating back to 1999/2000. The figures for England peaked at 1,384 in 2002/3. In 2004/5 the North West was the second most violent SHA (207 patients removed) behind London (239).

Similar figures are not aggregated centrally in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

neil.durham@haymarket.com

Hansard

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