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Stiffer sentences for those who attack practice staff, says BMA

by Julie Griffiths
28 June 2022

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The BMA has called for ‘stiffer sentences’ for those who attack GPs and practice staff.

Doctors at the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) in Brighton passed a motion earlier this week that demanded stiffer sentences for those who attack healthcare workers.

Doctors also voted in favour of:

  • a ‘greater awareness of the prevalence of abuse towards healthcare staff’
  • ‘greater support’ for ‘clinicians who are victims of abuse and malicious complaints’ and
  • ‘support for healthcare workers who are victims of slanderous / malicious complaints’.

Another part of the motion that called for self-defence training was not passed.

Criminal acts of violence at GP practices that were reported to the police have almost doubled in the last five years and increased year on year since 2017, a recent BMJ investigation found.

Earlier this month, Management in Practice launched its ‘Keep your Practice Safe’ campaign to end aggression in practices with a story of how one GP practice stopped offering a face-to-face reception after excessive abuse from patients.

The campaign came after two studies revealed almost a third of practice staff had been physically abused at work. The aim is to help practices manage and head off any abuse or aggression to keep staff protected and patient services running smoothly.

Over the coming months, we will publish case studies, blogs, guides, and other resources aimed at providing practical tips and advice for practices.

Updated NHS England advice has said GP practices can now consider deregistering patients who have ‘unnecessarily persistent or unrealistic service demands that cause disruption’.

ARM motion in full

Motion by North East Regional Council: That this meeting recognises the damage inflicted on healthcare workers by abusive patients and relatives, and malicious complaints, and calls for:- 

i) greater awareness of the prevalence of abuse towards healthcare staff – PASSED

ii) greater support should be offered to clinicians who are victim of abuse and malicious complaints – PASSED

iii) routine provision of self-defence training should be available for all clinical staff – LOST

iv) stiffer sentences for those who attack healthcare workers – PASSED

v) support for healthcare workers who are victim of slanderous / malicious complaints – PASSED


This story is based on a story published by our sister publication Pulse