Cancer Research UK
Mental Health Media
Elephant Atta
College of Policing

Doctors ‘suffer daily abuse’ in the UK

A DOCTOR has spoken of the daily abuse he and his staff are subjected to from patients who he suspects are demanding more medication to sell on.

Patients have damaged his car when they were refused sick notes, Dr Muhammad Faisal, of Water Eaton Health Centre in Milton Keynes, said.

The 41-year-old described to Eastern Eye last Thursday (3) how he and his staff are subjected to threats and abuse.

Patients, some of whom who are suspected to be drug addicts, are demanding controlled drugs such as morphine, tramadol and diazepam.

Some also arrive late for their appointments and “demand” to be seen, Dr Faisal said, adding that the patients have a “do what I say” attitude.

At times, patients have barged into the doctor’s room when they were seeing other patients.

“They feel like we are their servants and they dictate. Not only to the doctors in the practice, but the rest of the staff. The abuse happens on a daily basis. Some patients lose their temper very easily. We’ve had to remove them for rude behaviour. We are struggling. It is so difficult. It’s so abusive. I will not be able to recruit any staff. It’s a shame,” he said.

Dr Muhammad Faisal

The doctor, who has been working at the practise since 2015, claimed that patients come up with “excuses” to get additional medication, citing  that pet dogs ate the medication, or that they lost medicines on the bus.

In some instances, patients claimed to have been stabbed and hence had the controlled drugs stolen from them.
Dr Faisal said the NHS responded to his complaints, but have told him there is nothing they can do, as they are an independent practice, “so we have to manage our own office.”

He called the police and they responded, he said: “They are giving us support. So, let’s see.”
Obi Amandi, the lead professional officer at the trade union Unite, said no one should have to work under the threat of daily abuse.

“These kinds of things are not acceptable and they shouldn’t happen. Caring professionals who are trying to help the public deserve respect and they shouldn’t be treated that way.

“Yes, your job is to treat people and care for them, but that care shouldn’t mean that it’s OK for them to abuse you.”

Amandi said a multitude of factors has contributed to the increased abuse. She told Eastern Eye there are fewer doctors and nurses because they have to take loans in order to be trained, adding that the government has not invested enough into the workforce.

Obi Amandi

“It’s many things that are making the situation worse and leading us further away from being able to solve [the issue] if we were better resourced and better able to support people.”

Primary Concerns 2016, a report based on a survey of health professionals, showed that 70 per cent of GP practice staff had faced some sort of abuse in 2016, a rise of 57 per cent from the previous year.

The most common form of abuse was verbal, with 64 per cent reporting such incidents; six per cent had faced physical abuse.

Dr Faisal said: “My job is not to keep the patient happy, it is to keep the patient healthy.”

He said while he switched off once he left the practice, it was not as easy for some of his staff.

“It’s definitely been affecting my staff so I am supporting them now, especially if they are experiencing rude behaviour. We issue a warning letter to patients. If it happens a second time, we remove them. If they use profanities, we remove them. We are taking strong action.

“Doctors are starting to just call the police when a patient is abusive. We’d rather call the police than give them what they want,” he said.
The NHS said it was working on new guidance on dealing with abusive patients, but would not comment specifically on Dr. Faisal’s complaints.