Care ban for those who abuse medics

PEOPLE who physically or verbally assault staff at one of the region's primary care trusts could face prosecution or be banned from treatment.The message has been issued by Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust (PCT) and comes in the wake of figures published by the National Audit Office that show violence towards NHS staff has increased by 13 per cent in the past two years.

PEOPLE who physically or verbally assault staff at one of the region's primary care trusts could face prosecution or be banned from treatment.

The message has been issued by Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust (PCT) and comes in the wake of figures published by the National Audit Office that show violence towards NHS staff has increased by 13 per cent in the past two years.

About 95,500 incidents involving violence or aggression against NHS staff were recorded in 2001-02.

From April 2002 to March 2003, there were 22 recorded physical or verbal assaults on staff across the Suffolk Coastal area.

Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust (PCT) employs more than 370 people, serving a population of 100,800 and has responsibility for 14 GP practices and three community hospitals.

Ana Selby, chief executive of Suffolk Coastal PCT, said: "We recognise that it is only a tiny minority of people who cause a problem, but there is absolutely no excuse for verbal or physical abuse on healthcare staff.

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"It is a growing problem across the country and we are keen to underline the Government's message that all instances of abuse will be taken extremely seriously and we will, if necessary, withhold treatment or prosecute.

"Healthcare staff are there to treat the patient and we are determined to continue providing the service our community needs, but we will take all necessary steps to reduce any risks to staff. They should not to have to put up with verbal or physical abuse under any circumstances."

Suffolk Coastal PCT said unacceptable behaviour included excessive noise, threatening or abusive language, derogatory racial or sexual remarks, offensive gestures or behaviours or consumption of alcohol.

The move follows a national campaign to tackle abuse in primary care.

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