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BMA Conference Monday, 1 July, 2002, 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK
Safety plea from doctors
surgeon doctors
Attacks on doctors are increasing
Doctors have told their annual conference how they constantly fear attacks from patients and their relatives.

One medic told the British Medical Association meeting in Harrogate how one colleague had been beaten unconscious, and a GP held up at knifepoint in a patient's house.

Doctors at the conference said those running hospitals and GP managers must ensure their staff were safe, and called for an end to the "patchy" approach to security currently seen across the country.

Trainee GP, Dr Hermann Reischle, told the conference he had come across many instances of doctors being the victims of violence - even in rural Herefordshire.

'No problem'

He said while working as a hospital doctor in the county in December 2000, he had had to treat a colleague who had been beaten up while walking back from the library to his accommodation in hospital grounds.

"He was beaten unconscious. Everyone was quite worried about it because it could have happened again." But an independent report into security at the hospital, which Dr Reischle did not want to name, said no extra security measures needed to be taken.

Dr Reischle said: "As only one incident during the last three years had actually resulted in physical injury there was no security problem of note.

"Porter staff, untrained in security, and as frightened as we are, were to respond in 10 minutes, otherwise the police were to be called.

"Security cameras will not be installed as there are no staff to monitor the screens."

He said a female GP who visited a patient's house at night was held at knifepoint.

"She now refuses to do any further shifts for that service."


The most upsetting thing is thing is the attitude of managers to these incidents

Dr David Chung, Glasgow
But he added: "The primary care organisation continues to send unaccompanied female doctors on night visits.

"Concerns raised at the local junior doctors forum are continuously swept under the carpet."

He said the zero tolerance policy announced by the government had simply resulted in a few posters being displayed in the hospital.

He said: "Regrettably, it hasn't made any difference on the shop floor."

'Barely a murmur'

Dr David Chung, an A&E doctor in Glasgow said he, his partner and friends and colleagues had all been subjected to violence.

He said: "The most upsetting thing is thing is the attitude of managers to these incidents."

He told how there had been praise for a judge who had returned to work after being assaulted by a defendant.

"But when that sort of thing happens to NHS workers, there's barely a murmur in the press.

"Somehow we are expected to behave as though its part of our jobs, and we should be expected to accept this.

"We can't tolerate this any further. It's just not fair."

Full coverage of the BMA conference 2002

Day Three

Day Two

Day one

Personal stories

TALKING POINT
See also:

03 Oct 00 | Health
17 Mar 00 | Health
14 Jun 02 | Health
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