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The issue was highlighted recently by Cork GP Dr Jim Harty, after the HSE placed a man, recently released from prison after serving a sentence for assault, into his care.
Dr Harty took to Twitter to note, “currently @HSELive trying to force a violent patient onto my list. It seems health and safety of GPs and practice team irrelevant. Why no violent patient scheme, like in NHS?”.
Dr Harty has written to the HSE expressing serious concern at the move and is currently awaiting a response.
Speaking to the Medical Independent (MI), Dr Harty said his practice is not equipped or supported to deal with these types of violent patients, who pose a health and safety threat to practice staff and patients.
He called on the HSE to establish a violent patient scheme, similar to that in operation within the UK NHS, where violent patients are treated at special, secure facilities.
“If the HSE is actively imposing someone on us, they have a duty of care from an ethical and moral point of view, I believe. As an employer, I also have a duty of care to my employees,” Dr Harty outlined.
He said many GPs have been threatened with violence and noted the case of a man who was recently sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for an unprovoked “savage assault” on a GP in his practice in Limerick.
NAGP President GP Dr Emmet Kerin also called for a violent patient scheme to be established and criticised the HSE for providing no information on a patient’s violent history when placing them on a particular GP list.
“We all need protection and this sort of thing unfortunately happens more often than people realise,” Dr Kerin noted.
Monaghan GP Dr Illona Duffy remarked on Twitter, “HSE continue to ‘assign’ violent patients to GPs with no warning of their violent history. HSE show complete disregard for the safety of GPs and their staff.”
Commenting on concerns, HSE Director General Mr Tony O’Brien noted on Twitter that “the HSE would of course be happy to engage on the issue”. In another tweet, he described the issue as “important”.