A GP practice in Lincoln received a bomb threat last week, resulting in it and a nearby surgery evacuating the premises.
Minster Medical Practice in Lincoln, which shares a site with Lindum Medical Practice, told Management in Practice the threat had been made over the phone at the end of the week (12 August).
It was reported to the police, who then confirmed the bomb threat was a hoax.
Jo Downes, practice manager for Minster Medical Practice, said: ‘We have found that certainly abusive and aggressive behaviour towards our staff has increased quite dramatically during this year, and often it’s about small minor things, but the behaviour seems out of proportion to the issue.’
She said the practice had received several calls that day from a patient who had been removed for threatening behaviour. She understood that he had been arrested.
Ms Downes added that this incident was ‘the worst thing that we’ve experienced’.
This is the latest report of violence against practice staff, with such incidents occurring frequently over the course of the vaccine campaign.
At the end of June, a survey revealed that as many as 75% of practice managers, practice nurses and GPs say they have suffered verbal abuse from patients during the programme.
The rate of abuse against staff mirrored the IGPM’s own findings in a survey conducted to support the launch of its anti-abuse campaign. It also found that 75% of practice staff received abusive comments from patients daily.
In a series of tweets posted this morning (16 August), the Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) said it had been made aware of the bomb threat over the weekend, in addition to a report of an incident at May Lane Practice, Gloucestershire in which a patient ‘attended a practice and threw blood-soaked items at the receptionists’.
The IGPM today said: ‘We are calling on the government for a media campaign to support general practice and highlight that abuse is not acceptable.’
The body called on the campaign to remind patients that general practice has remained open throughout the pandemic, that practices have delivered 75% of the vaccination programme, and that the telephone first model is in place under NHS England advice.
The Institute said that without Government intervention incidents such as these will continue to happen, warning that staff may resign ‘their posts as they shouldn’t have to put up with this’.
It added that primary care services ‘need protection’, and the ‘completely incorrect’ assertion that general practice has been closed needs to be challenged on a ‘national scale’.
The IGPM told Management in Practice: ‘These are the two worst incidents we have been informed of so far but are hearing from many members that abuse and aggression in lots of areas is becoming more overt.
‘There is also a lot going on over social media with patients claiming their practices are shut when this is not the case. What patients need to remember sometimes is that the staff who work in the surgeries are often part of the local community and will read these things – and it can have a profound impact on them.’
Last week, a BMA survey of more than 2,400 doctors in England Wales and Northern Ireland revealed that more than half of GPs have faced verbal abuse from patients or those accompanying them in the last month, with one in five threatened.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson said:
‘We take violence and abuse towards NHS staff extremely seriously. Everyone deserves to work in a safe, caring and compassionate environment that supports both mental and physical wellbeing.
‘Through the NHS Violence Reduction Programme we are taking action to protect staff against violence and aggression, and the NHS continues to work closely with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to bring offenders to justice.’
NHS England declined to comment.