The British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland has welcomed moves to include GPs in legislation protecting them from attacks, and claims it sends out a "powerful message".
Dr Dean Marshall, a member of the BMA's Scottish Council and chair of the Scottish General Practitioners' Committee, hailed plans to extend the Emergency Workers Act, which currently allows for tougher punishments against people who attack ambulance workers, doctors, nurses, and midwives working in a hospital or responding to an emergency.
The amended law is now working its way through the Scottish Parliament, and will safeguard doctors, nurses, and midwives working in the community.
Dr Marshall said: "The extension of this legislation sends out a powerful message that violence will not be tolerated and will not go unpunished.
"While it will not eliminate this violence altogether, it adds an additional layer of protection which is to be welcomed.
"However, more must also be done to reduce the number of violent incidents against health workers who dedicate their careers to looking after their patients."
He added that training on how to manage violent situations should be available across the NHS, and stressed that patients should be made aware of what is acceptable behaviour.