Indian doctors among many attacked on duty in Britain
Jan 10, 2008 - 4:34:57 PM

London, Jan 10 - Indian and Indian-origin doctors working in the National Health Service - are among thousands of doctors in Britain who were physically or verbally attacked by patients last year but most choose not to report the abuse, according to a report.

Research by the British Medical Association - published Thursday shows that one in three doctors in Britain has been victim of such attacks in clinics. Thousands of Indian doctors and other health professionals work in the NHS, and thousands more apply for jobs in the medical sector here every year.

In the last six months alone, the BMA research reported that there were two horrific cases of violence towards doctors in the Glasgow area. In November, a patient in his consulting room beat up a general practitioner and, in August, another general practitioner was stabbed by a patient in her practice.

In December, Arun Rai, 49, who graduated from Ranchi University, was hospitalised after being assaulted by a patient during an examination in his clinic in Glasgow, prompting other medical staff to carry personal alarm systems at all times.

Rai has been working at the practice owned by Dr Singh and Partners in the Clydebank Medical Centre, Glasgow, for the last three years. He was assaulted while examining a patient in his chamber. He suffered severe bruising and cuts after being pushed to the ground and repeatedly battered on the head and face.

A female colleague heard his screams and rounded up several members of staff who rushed into the room to help.

After the attack on Rai, Alan McDevitt, secretary of the Glasgow Local Medical Committee, said: 'The room was fitted with an emergency security button but Rai did not have a chance to use it. He is a pretty big guy so the attacker must have used a lot of force.

'Arun - is obviously very shaken and staff at the centre are also very upset. They are in tears just thinking about it. It's totally unacceptable that anyone should be subjected to such an unprovoked attack, let alone a GP doing his job in the middle of the afternoon.

'It will take Arun a while to get back to work. The fact that this happened in broad day light with a lot of people around obviously makes doctors feel more vulnerable.'

Around 600 doctors from across Great Britain responded to the BMA survey on their experiences of violence in the workplace in the past year. A third had experienced some form of violence - including threats and verbal abuse - and one in ten had been physically attacked, including being stabbed, kicked, punched, bitten and spat at.

Of these, one in three received minor injuries, and one in 20 was seriously injured. More than half - of doctors who suffered violence did not report the incident.

The most frequently stated reason for workplace violence was dissatisfaction with the service, including frustration with waiting times and refusal to prescribe medication. This has doubled as a cause of violence since 2003, when the BMA last conducted the survey.

Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said: 'These are worrying figures - both in terms of the potential numbers involved and the fact that so few doctors tend to report violence. We hope that this is not because they feel the problem is not being taken seriously.

'Ministers have repeatedly stated that there should be zero tolerance to violence of any sort in the NHS. We heartily agree. The mechanisms must be there to minimise the likelihood of attacks, to support staff who experience them, and to ensure that anyone who commits an act of violence is dealt with appropriately.'

Other findings from the research include:

-Half of doctors say that violence in the workplace is a problem.

-More than half had witnessed violence against other staff, such as nurses and receptionists.

-Female doctors are more likely to experience violence in the workplace than males -.

-Junior doctors are the most likely to experience violence, followed by GPs.

-Almost two thirds of psychiatrists report that violence in their workplace is a problem, compared with a fifth of surgeons.

-Most doctors have not received any training in dealing with violent patients.

-One in ten doctors has access to a secure facility in which to treat violent patients.

The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, currently progressing through the parliament, contains proposals to tackle nuisance behaviour on NHS hospital premises. The BMA is seeking an amendment to the bill so that general practitioner premises are also covered.

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