GPs: Abuse in Darlington and Teesside condemned

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Health chiefs have condemned rising levels of abuse directed at GPs amid surging reports of people making violent threats and verbal assaults.

Demand for primary care services is continuing to rise, says Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

The CCG is responsible for commissioning a range of health services, including GPs across Darlington and Teesside.

Read more: Elderly care home resident  suffered serious injuries after early morning ‘assault’

David Gallagher, chief officer of the CCG said: “GP surgeries across the whole of the region have been working tirelessly to continue to provide a full service for their patients whilst tackling an increase in demand for services following the pandemic.

“All practice staff are working harder than ever before, but they are also unfortunately experiencing ever increasing levels of abuse – which is wholly unacceptable.  

“We understand that people may get frustrated if they find it difficult to get through to their practice on the phone or to make an appointment with a GP or member of a practice team when they want to, but taking those frustrations out on a receptionist, a nurse, a manager or a doctor makes it much harder for staff to do their job and deliver the care that people need.

“It is never acceptable to abuse or assault someone…especially when they are trying to help”.

Earlier this year more than 80 receptionists at Darlington GPs signed an open letter in a plea to halt the rising levels of abuse being directed at them.

It follows a survey by the Darlington Primary Care Network (PCN), which shows that 85 per cent of receptionists at the town’s 11 GP surgeries have suffered verbal abuse over the past two years, with some reporting physical attacks.

In that letter, receptionists said: “ “We are shouted and sworn at on a regular basis. We have been spat at, threatened with being set on fire, and having our faces ‘smashed in’.

“We are often told ‘if I die it will be your fault’. Yet somehow, amazingly, we still come back, every day, to try our best to help you.”

In May, the CCG said 80 GP practices across Tees Valley saw more than 268,000 attendances with 63 per cent of appointments (over 169,000) being face to face.

More than 125,000 (46 per cent) of attendances were seen by non-GP staff, with a range of primary care clinical specialists including mental health nurses, social prescribers, community pharmacists, and physiotherapists.

Read more: Darlington carers ‘suspended’ after resident allegedly pinned down at care home

A recent Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) campaign highlighted the scale of abuse across the country, with 75 percent of GP staff experiencing threatening behaviour from patients daily and 13 percent at least once a week.

“It is really important that people continue to put their health first and seek medical help when they need it”, added Mr Gallagher. “However, we need everyone to help us to help you and please remember that staff working in general practice are people too and are doing their very best to help in very challenging times.”

 

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