In recent months there has been a disappointing number of cases of abuse directed at GP practices and staff from members of the public seemingly based on misinformation about how practices are delivering their services for patients.
GP practice staff have been front and centre throughout the pandemic, supporting their patients during the greatest challenge in a generation. Practices have been administering the majority of vaccinations, reaching out to underserved communities and making headway against their objective to tackle health inequalities, remaining open and delivering record numbers of consultations, the majority face to face.
Given this dedication and the sacrifices made to keep practices and broader primary care services running, GP practices deserve the overt and public support of government to carry on doing what they do best – delivering much needed high-quality care to patients. It is therefore disappointing that they are being repeatedly attacked, insulted and scapegoated across the media with no positive rebuttal from the government.
A recent BMA survey revealed that two-thirds of GPs (67%) said their experience of abuse, threatening behaviour or violence had gotten worse in the last year, with half (51%) saying they had been personally verbally abused in the past month alone.
A similar survey by The Institute of General Practice Management found:
- 75% of GP staff experienced abuse from patients on a daily basis, and 13% at least once a week.
- 78% reported that the abuse experienced is a combination of threatening behaviour, racist abuse, and sexist abuse.
- 63% said they have had to call the police because of abusive behaviour towards staff
- 83% have removed a patient because of multiple incidents of abuse towards their team1.
This situation is not acceptable. Organisations representing GP groups have now written to the government to express “grave concern about the lack of central support, or public challenge by government, of increasing instances of abuse being directed towards those working in general practice.” The letter goes on to state that: “we believe that there must be accurate, timely and regular communications from the government to the public, which reflect the realities of the situation and what is being done to address the challenges facing the NHS, and particularly relating to general practice.”
We also ask you, members of the public to support your GP workforce. Behind the inaccurate headlines and accusations are people, your local GP staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic and made sacrifices to keep practices and broader primary care services running, delivering much needed high-quality care to patients.