Daily abuse is putting off staff, warns Shropshire GP

The daily abuse of staff at medical practices is mounting pressure on already overstretched workloads, a GP warned today.

Doctors Jess Harvey, left, and Sally Burgess
Doctors Jess Harvey, left, and Sally Burgess

Dr Jess Harvey said the verbal abuse was discouraging some staff from wanting to work in certain roles and has appealed to patients in the county to be supportive and respectful.

The GP, who works for Much Wenlock and Cressage Medical Practice, has also equated current workloads to those in the peak of winter and admitted being "apprehensive" about the coming months.

Winter is already historically a period which places high demand on medical services.

It comes after many patients across Shropshire have reported difficulties accessing their GP.

Meanwhile, medics have said that GP practices went into the pandemic 'understaffed and under-resourced'.

Dr Harvey said staff are facing verbal abuse on a daily basis, which is only making the situation worse.

"With the abuse our staff is facing, people don't want to work in reception as they are getting a hard time," she said.

"Our staff are getting so much abuse people are not wanting to do that job anymore as it isn't a nice environment.

"It's a nationwide problem. We could do with public support with that.

"They really got behind the NHS when the pandemic first hit. It would be great to see that now."

The results of a Shropshire Star survey earlier this month found more than half of respondents said GP receptionists could be “rude and obstructive” when they attempted to get an appointment.

Dr Harvey said: "There's a stereotype of receptionists in medical practices which is completely incorrect.

"They are there to help and because they care, but staff are getting abuse on a daily basis.

"They are having an incredibly difficult time right now. I would like all my colleagues to be treated with some respect."

She also said workforce pressures and workloads are currently higher than she has ever known.

And she admitted being "apprehensive" going into the winter months when staff – who are also involved in the Covid and flu jab delivery – are already "exhausted".

But she reiterated that patients can still get face-to-face appointments with their GP if it is necessary.

She added: "No one is saying we won't see patients face to face, although the way they access that is a little different to before.

"We are under an incredible amount of stress.

"It's not because we don't care. You go into healthcare because you want to make people's lives better."

Earlier this month, Dr Mary McCarthy, who is the West Midlands regional council deputy chair for the British Medical Association, a trade union for doctors, said previous Government commitments to deliver more GPs remains unmet.

She said as workload pressures have increased due to the pandemic, a historic long-term lack of investment into general practice was now seriously impacting both patients and GPs.

Dr McCarthy added that without adequate staffing levels and resources, "hardworking GPs and practice staff are becoming more and more limited by factors beyond their control".

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