Doctors and staff in Humber GP practices have spoken out about the “soul destroying” abuse they have received from patients as the NHS launched a campaign to stamp it out.
NHS workers in primary care sites, including GP practices, community pharmacies, dental practices and others opened up about the abuse in a recent survey.
A worker who claimed the joy had been “sucked out” of their job and another who said patients needed to realise staff were “only human” were among the anonymous responses.
It comes as the Humberside Group of Local Medical Committees (LMC) launched its campaign to stamp out abuse levelled at staff.
The campaign, which has the backing of the Hull, East Riding and North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), follows staff reports of aggression, prejudice, threats and foul language from some patients.
Staff surveyed for the campaign reported feeling disrespected, fearful, dread at the thought of work and some said it left them wondering whether or not to stay in their jobs.
It also follows a national British Medical Association (BMA) survey which found about two thirds of GPs said abuse had gotten worse in the last year.
More than half, 51 per cent, said they were verbally abused in the last month alone.
The CCGs stated they launched the campaign to stress that abuse against staff would not be tolerated.
Staff surveyed by Humberside LMC said their experiences of abuse came after “busting our guts” in the coronavirus pandemic, with one calling on patients to “help us help you”.
It is thought the rise in abuse in the past 18 months has coincided with coronavirus disruption to primary care services.
The CCGs stated it gave some patients the impression practices were closed or at limited capacity, leading them to complain about not being seen and to take frustrations out on staff.
NHS figures showed the number of GP appointments made nationally rose by around 3.5m from June 2019 to the same month this year, as well as 4m for vaccines.
One staff member said: “Most of us are busting our gut to make sure you are seen and looked after.
“We are tired, we are emotional, we have lost people too, we also haven’t been on holiday, met our families, friends and been out for meals.
“We are still here, working so hard to get you all seen, cared for and treated with the level of care and attention that we would like to be treated with ourselves.
“Please think about what you are going to say to us before you pick up the phone.
“Does there need to be a name and blame, or do you just need to talk to someone politely and get your problem solved?
“Please help us to look after you.”
Another worker said: “It sucks the joy out of life.”
Another said: “It is soul destroying to know that people think you are bad at your job and have no idea.”
One worker said: “The only thing that keeps me working in this area is the people who I work with, GPs, nurses, non-clinical staff are all together and supportive to each other.”
Another said: “Staff are only human and have a limited capacity within which they can work. “Be patient and respectful.”
Local GP Dr Zoe Norris, also of Humberside LMC, said any patient who “crossed the line” can and would be refused treatment.
The doctor said: “We understand that patients have frustrations and fears around their own health though it doesn’t help anyone if they are abusive.
“It affects everyone, though it is particularly unfair that front line workers who are doing their absolute best take the brunt of this.
“We’re all humans and need to do our bit to be reasonable and kind.”
“Pressures on primary care to meet demands are not new though are made more challenging by the pandemic.”
The campaign was drawn up by the CCGs working with Humber-based media company Eskimosoup.
Article by Joe Gerrard (Local Democracy Reporting Service)