The number of violent assaults at GPs practices that are reported to police has doubled in the last five years, an investigation has found.
Recorded incidents of stalking and harassment at GP surgeries have also tripled over the same period, the British Medical Journal found. The publication estimates this is largely being driven by a surge in “malicious communications” that includes sending letters or emails that are indecent, grossly offensive or threatening.
The figures highlight how assaults, harassment, and other forms of abuse aimed at doctors and reception staff had worsened during the pandemic, with GP leaders blaming the increased pressure put on services and “some sections of the media (perpetuating) the notion that GP services were ‘closed’.”
Richard Van Mellaerts, a GP in Kingston Upon Thames and an executive officer for the BMA’s GP Committee suggested the dramatic increase in remote consultations and fewer GPs taking on more work as possible drivers for aggression.
“We appreciate patients’ frustrations and upset with delays in their care, but those frustrations need to be channelled into holding governments to account in order that they invest appropriately in general practice and solve these systemic issues, not taken out on their GPs and practice staff,” said
Mallearts warned the rise in violent incidents and abuse will only exacerbate the NHS recruitment crisis, labelled by a recent report from a cross-party group of MPs as the greatest factor preventing the service tackling its 5.8 million patient backlog.