'They’re only trying to help’: North Yorkshire GPs face wave of verbal abuse over stretched health services
GP practices are facing a wave of abuse from patients frustrated with delays for non-Covid health services stretched by the pandemic, an NHS boss has said.
Amanda Bloor accountable officer for NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, told a briefing today that patients are being aggressive on an "increasingly frequent basis" as GPs struggle to cope with huge demand for routine services including appointments and prescriptions.
Ms Bloor has issued a plea for patience and politeness towards staff which she said are working under difficult circumstances as they not only try to deal with this demand but also spearhead the Covid vaccination drive.
"We are continuing to see significant system pressures across North Yorkshire and York in all of our health care settings but we are also now sadly hearing some feedback about abusive behaviour towards staff," she told the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum briefing.
"A number of our GP surgeries have said their practice teams are being subject to verbal abuse on an increasingly frequent basis, particularly receptionists.
"The wider NHS and all of its staff are here to help you, so please do work with us and be kind. I don't think anybody deserves to be abused at work particularly when in challenging situations they are only trying to help us."
Over the past 14 months, while all GPs have been working throughout the pandemic, surgeries have reduced face-to-face appointments which have been replaced with telephone and online consultations.
It has meant long telephone queues and online forms for patients seeking the medical help they need, however, some surgeries have now begun restarting more services.
Earlier this month, the NHS published updated guidance which said patients should be able to request an in-person appointment with their doctor unless they have Covid symptoms.
But in order to keep the pressure off staff, Ms Bloor said patients should still use online and telephone services where they can, including 111 for any urgent medical help and the NHS app for ordering prescriptions.
She said: "Please do use the NHS wisely and that way we can best support everybody's needs."
Meanwhile, Ms Bloor also told today's briefing that more than 482,000 people in North Yorkshire and York have now received their first Covid vaccine dose, while 312,000 people have had their second.
There are, however, still more than 31,000 residents who belong in the top nine priority groups and have yet to come forward despite receiving their vaccine invites.
Ms Bloor said: "We encourage everyone across North Yorkshire and York to take up the vaccination when they are invited and also make sure they do attend for the second dose when the time comes as we know that second dose does just make all the difference.
"We also know that over 31,000 people have not yet come forward and it is really important that we get as many people across all communities covered by the vaccination as possible.
"It is not just about stopping you getting the virus, it is about protecting families, loved ones and the wider community."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter