Anti-abuse laws failing GPs

An online poll of Medical Observer readers revealed that only 11% of 104 respondents were satisfied with existing legislation, in the light of a recent change to South Australian laws that increased the maximum penalty for violence against state health workers to 25 years – an increase of five years.

The SA government has indicated it may also consider these new maximum sentences to include assaults occurring in the state’s GP super clinics and state-owned GP Plus clinics.

However, private-practice GPs have no special protection under any state and territory criminal laws, despite a study published in the MJA last year that found that nearly a quarter of the 3500 GPs interviewed had experienced physical aggression.

Dr William Huang, an addiction specialist GP in Sydney, was punched by a known opiate doctor shopper last year.

“The inequity in sentencing between frontline health workers makes me furious,