More than 1,600 patients were removed from GP practice lists in England in 2018 to be placed on the Special Allocation Scheme (SAS), a health minister has said.
In a written answer to Parliament, published on 15 January, health minister Steve Brine said that as of November 2018, 1,686 patients were removed from GP practice lists and placed on SAS.
Fewer patients were removed from GP practice lists in 2018 than in 2017, when 2,055 individuals were removed from their practice list.
The scheme was created to ensure that patients removed from a practice’s list following an incident reported to the police continue to access GP care from an alternative practice that provides the enhanced service.
Despite the reduction in number, a recent poll of 400 doctors by Doctors.net.uk found that 134 doctors experienced assault, while 233 were threatened by patients during the course of their clinical practice.
A survey by MiP publisher Cogora, published last year, found that the number of assaults on healthcare professionals had increased in 2017. Practice managers were the group at greatest risk, being four times more likely than a GP to experience physical abuse from a patient.
In October 2018, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock introduced a new ‘zero tolerance’ strategy to better protect NHS staff from assaults and abuse.
Commenting, BMA GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said:‘GPs and their teams should feel safe and able to offer the best care to patients without the threat of violence and abuse.
‘Unfortunately, NHS staff, already working in a system under pressure, are increasingly finding themselves on the receiving end of aggressive and threatening incidents.
Last year, the Government passed a new law doubling the time offenders convicted of assaulting or attacking emergency staff spend in jail from six to 12 months.
Dr Vautrey said the BMA backed the bill and that it should be extended to all staff working in the NHS.
‘Physical attacks not uncommon’
He added: ‘GPs and their practice staff are on the frontline of the health service, where verbal and even physical attacks are not uncommon. When serious incidents occur, practices should be supported in following a zero tolerance policy.’
As our sister publication Pulse reported at the beginning of January, a patient hit a GP with a crossbow while the GP was in his consultation room, to mention just one incidence of violence.
Steve Williams, co-chair of the Practice Management Network, said: ‘We can only be vigilant within our own environments and a scheme like this [SAS] does give some assurances compared to how it was dealt with in the past.’
Management in Practice recently wrote about practice managers’ experiences of violence and abuse. Read the article here