One in 10 doctors were physically attacked during 2007, according to a British Medical Association (BMA) survey.
Half of the doctors questioned for the study said violence in the workplace is a problem, with GPs the second most likely to be attacked, after junior doctors.
More than half have seen violence against other staff, including nurses and receptionists.
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill proposes measures to tackle nuisance on hospital premises, but the BMA is calling for an amendment so that GPs’ surgeries are also covered.
Most doctors who were subjected to violence last year did not tell the authorities, which suggests under-reporting of assaults, and an increasing acceptance that violence will occur, according to the poll.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, head of the BMA, said: “These are worrying figures – both in terms of the potential numbers involved and the fact that so few doctors tend to report violence.
“We hope that this is not because they feel the problem is not being taken seriously.
“Ministers have repeatedly stated that there should be zero tolerance to violence of any sort in the NHS.
“We heartily agree. The mechanisms must be there to minimise the likelihood of attacks, to support staff who experience them, and to ensure that anyone who commits an act of violence is dealt with appropriately.”
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