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Police commissioner speaks to GPs about rising abuse from patients

by Eliza Parr
29 May 2023

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The Leicestershire police commissioner reached out to local GP leaders due to concerns about rising levels of abuse at practices, our sister publication Pulse reported in an exclusive story.

Police and crime commissioner Rupert Matthews arranged a meeting with the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (LLR) LMC towards the end of last year to discuss an approach to tackle the problem.  

LMC chair Dr Grant Ingrams said the police commissioner had taken this action because he ‘had noticed the number of increased calls the police were getting from practices’.

One idea raised at the recent meeting to address increasing abuse was to ask GP practices to ‘report absolutely everything’ for a ‘limited time’, in order to ‘make an example’ of it, according to Dr Ingrams.

A Freedom of Information Act request carried out by Pulse showed that for Leicestershire Police the number of callouts associated with violent behaviour at GP practices increased by 150% over the pandemic, jumping from 10 total callouts in 2019 to 25 in 2022.

And, over the same period, the number of recorded crimes for criminal damage and public order offences increased by 80% and 50% respectively.

Mr Matthews said: ‘Some concerns were brought to my attention about disruption in a couple of GP surgeries. I attended a meeting to discuss these issues, following which I asked the relevant local policing teams if these problems had been reported. 

‘They were aware of some issues with an intoxicated person in one location and another situation elsewhere that has since been resolved. 

‘I firmly believe that there is no place for any disruptive behaviour in a doctor’s surgery or anywhere else for that matter and I am pleased that our local officers acted quickly and effectively.’

He also said he has received no further reports of incidents at GP practices since the meeting.

However, according to Dr Ingrams, communication between the LMC and the police commissioner is ongoing.

Dr Ingrams said of Mr Matthews: ‘Initially he wanted to talk to us to see if we thought it was a problem and why, and for him to discuss our approach. 

‘One of the things he was thinking about – because they know that only a small proportion of these sort of instances get reported – was for a limited time to say, “please report absolutely everything because we want to try to make an example of this”. Then for a short while we’ll make a push at investigating and prosecuting, which hopefully puts people off.’

Dr Ingrams said he has lost two members of reception staff at his own practice, partly because ‘they couldn’t cope with the abuse from patients anymore’.

Last May, Oakham Medical Practice in the LLR area stopped offering a face-to-face reception after staff suffered excessive verbal abuse and physical intimidation from patients. 

Last year, Management in Practice launched a campaign to #KeepYourPracticeSafe as more GP practices across the country faced abuse.

This story was previously published on our sister publication Pulse.