Patients Tremble in Fear. Reception Workers Have Even Scarpered; PANIC BUTTONS, SECURITY GUARDS...IT'S THE NEW LOOK DOCTOR'S SURGERY
Byline: FIONNUALA BOURKE
THE most violent patients in the Midlands are to be treated at a new high-security doctor's surgery - with bouncers on the doors.
The shock plans come as the Sunday Mercury learned an alarming four out of 10 GPs say they have been victims of an attack.
Assaults on doctors, their staff and other patients in the region have soared in recent months - and security guards are already being employed at some surgeries to handle the thugs.
Now the new custom-built centre, fitted with panic buttons and linked to a police station, is being set up in Handsworth, Birmingham.
It will treat violent and aggressive patients who have been struck off by GPs from across Birmingham and Solihull.
Violent incidents recorded in the West Midlands recently include weapons being brandished in waiting rooms and female doctors being punched in the face.
The special unit will be based near the Enki Medical Practice in Soho Road, Handsworth, and is due to open on March 31.
Around 30 patients will initially be referred to the surgery and their assignment will be reviewed after 12 months.
But Dr Charles Zuckerman, secretary of the Local Medical Committee, said that he expected the unit to treat even more patients once it is up and running.
He said: 'This new surgery will help doctors and staff to practice without fear of being assaulted by patients.
'Doctors, their staff and other patients are too often subject to abuse.
'Patients have physically lashed out in surgeries, been verbally aggressive and some have been known to brandish weapons.
'This is not acceptable but we hope the centre will help the violent patients as well.
'Hopefully it will provide the aggressors with a better understanding of some of the issues their unacceptable behaviour has created.
'Staff will receive special training to work in the surgery which will have close links to the local police station, security guards and CCTV.
'Any patient who attempts to strike out violently will end up in court and be sent to prison.'
Research by the British Medical Association has found around 40 per cent of Midland GPs have been attacked in their surgeries and 14 per cent feel unsafe at work.
And doctors claim the risk of attack along with increased workload and falling morale has led to the worst staffing crisis since the 1960s.
A separate BMA survey found 60 per cent of GPs have considered a career change and 54 per cent would advise school leavers against entering the profession.
Dr Fay Wilson, who practices at the Wand Medical Centre in Highgate, Birmingham, has witnessed several violent incidents at her inner city practice. …