More than one in three doctors have experienced violence over the past year,
with more than half saying it is a problem in their workplace, according to a
study by the British Medical Association (BMA).
Its report, Violence: the experience of UK doctors, found that GPs and
hospital workers experienced verbal threats and physical abuse.
Those working in A&E and psychiatry are more likely to report violence
as a problem in their workplace. And it appears the Government’s ‘zero
tolerance’ campaigns against violence do not extend to providing training and
Seven in 10 of the doctors polled had not received any training on how to
deal with violence, despite the fact that medical sites are at the greatest
risk of all workplaces in the UK for verbal and physical threats to staff.
The BMA has called for healthcare facilities to be designed with the
prevention of violence in mind, and for there to be a greater emphasis on
regular training for staff on dealing with potentially violent situations.
The under-reporting of violent incidents also remained a widespread problem,
with the survey showing a lack of support and help for doctors. No action was
taken in a third of cases of violence reported in the survey.
Dr John Garner, chairman of BMA’s Scottish Council, said: "Threatening
behaviour towards NHS workers is becoming a common problem for staff in all
areas of the health service, and some even consider violence to be an
"It is no wonder we struggle to recruit and retain staff. Unless there
is a cultural change in behaviour, this will go from bad to worse."