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Doctors Pena, Navarro, Noblejas and Valle, after presenting the SUR campaign. SUR
New safety campaign launched as number of attacks on doctors doubles in a year, with the vast majority on women
Crime

New safety campaign launched as number of attacks on doctors doubles in a year, with the vast majority on women

Malaga was the Andalusian province with the highest number of assaults on the medical professionals in 2023

Iván Gelibter

Wednesday, 13 March 2024, 21:38

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In 2023, Malaga province recorded 39 assaults on doctors, a figure that is practically double that of the previous year. This information, which was reported a few months ago by SUR, is now joined by more, equally worrying, data: the province is by far the one with the highest number of such aggressions in Andalucía.

At a joint press conference on Tuesday 12 March, by the College of Physicians and the Medical Union, at the headquarters of the Medical Association of Malaga (Commálaga), both bodies announced that they are launching a new campaign to fight the problem.

Malaga ranks first in Andalucía for assaults on doctors, with 39 cases recorded in 2023. Some distance behind is Cadiz, with 25, and Seville, with 18, according to data from the legal department of the Medical Association of Malaga (Commálaga). Of the total, 32 cases were presented by female doctors from health centres in Malaga city and the wider province, including the Costa del Sol, while 13 of the victims were under 35 years of age.

"We doctors in Malaga are not safe in our surgeries"

"We are really concerned about the increase in violence in doctors' surgeries. The fact that Malaga is leading the way in Andalucía is not good news and the College of Physicians is urging the health administration to implement more security measures in health centres and hospital emergency departments. We doctors in Malaga are not safe in our surgeries. This has to stop," said the president of the college, Pedro Navarro. He called for the policy of "zero tolerance" with regard to attacks on doctors to be fully implemented and stressed the need to approve the law against assaults on health personnel that is advancing in the region, as was also demanded a few days ago by the Andalusian Board of Medical Associations.

The press conference was also attended by the president of the Medical Union of Malaga, Antonio M. Noblejas. Both institutions have, for years, joined forces to mark the European Day against Assaults on Healthcare Workers. Noblejas was joined by the secretary general of the College of Physicians, José Miguel Pena, a psychiatrist, and the delegate for occupational risk prevention, and the Malaga Doctors' Union, for the Malaga health district, Teresa Valle.

Protocol

José Miguel Pena, who previously wrote in SUR of the course that the issue of assaults was taking, spoke of the college's protocol for its attacked members, which includes psychological and psychiatric care for the assaulted professional. Pena also explained that one of the reasons why Malaga has the highest number of cases of aggression in Andalucía is that the Malaga College of Physicians has a personalised service with a great deal of experience in matters of aggression. This means that doctors who previously did not report aggression now do so because they feel supported during the process.

As SUR reported, the official figures of the College of Physicians detail 39 reported assaults. In 2022 the figure was 22; some 26 in 2021; and 21 in 2020. The worst year was in 2019, with 45 complaints. Of the 39 assaults last year, 31 victims suffered psychological injuries; the rest suffered physical injuries. After the assaults, four of the victims had to take sick leave. The rest continued to work, most of them immediately after suffering the aggression. All the aggressions were recorded in the public health system.

Typical attacker

The profile of the attacker is typically of a male; in the attacks reported last year, 22 of the 39 attackers were men — aged 35 and over. The victim is usually a woman — 30 of the 39 victims were women. Fourteen of these female victims were under 35 years of age, followed by eight in the 36-48 age group.

Dr Pena wrote just three months ago that these figures were only "the tip of the iceberg". "The records of assaults are increasing and it is to be expected that they will continue to grow," he told reporters.

Solutions

As for possible solutions, the secretary general of the college said that the administration is "a little behind" social needs. "There is the general problem of the crisis in the health system. Among the causes of this type of violence, one of the most important is the time it takes to receive care, which is increasing because it is in crisis." He said that it was necessary, first and foremost, to improve access to healthcare and reduce waiting lists. Among the other causes of aggression, Dr Pena, said these included patients' disagreements with their prescribed care.

Additionally, the Medical Association and the Medical Union announced the repetition of the publicity campaign to raise awareness with the slogan 'Don't attack me, don't threaten me. It's a crime'. This two-month-long campaign has been running since Monday 11 March on buses in Malaga city as well as intercity buses in Vélez-Málaga and Marbella.

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