Last reviewed 19 October 2021

NHS England has said GPs will have access to a £5 million security fund as part of a new campaign to tackle patient abuse.

The move forms part of Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid’s package of support for GPs over the winter, announced last week. The new NHS England guidance, Our Plan for Improving Access for Patients and Supporting General Practice, said it will “immediately establish a £5 million fund to facilitate essential upgrades to practice security measures, distributed via NHS regional teams”.

The funding can be used for security enhancements GPs “think they might need”, such as “panic buttons” or CCTV. Sajid Javid added: “There are people out there, and I have seen it myself on social media, that have given abuse to GPs and there has actually been violence against GPs and it is completely, totally unacceptable. So there will be a zero-tolerance policy and one of the things I want to do in this package, again based on the feedback I was getting from GPs, is to offer support on that.”

The Government and NHS England said they will work with trade unions and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to launch the “zero-tolerance campaign on abuse of NHS staff”, and that NHS England will also work alongside the British Medical Association (BMA) GP Committee, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), and patient groups like Healthwatch and National Voices to “develop communications tools that can help people to understand how they can access the care they need in general practice”.

NHS England has also updated guidance, here, to say GP-led Covid vaccine sites should review their “security plans”, be aware of undercover protestors and work with their local police forces to ensure sites operate safely.

The announcement follows a Pulse magazine survey, which revealed rising levels of confrontational and aggressive behaviour from patients. The survey of 1000 GPs found 74% of GPs believed levels of patient abuse had “significantly increased” or “slightly increased” since before the pandemic and, of all GP respondents, 40% said that patient abuse had “significantly” increased during the pandemic and a further 34% saying it had slightly increased.