10 February

Abuse within Primary Care

The issues primary care professionals are facing today

By Ciaran Fletcher

It’s no secret that verbal abuse within primary care is already at a disgustingly high level and it’s only on the up! In recent weeks, prior to Christmas and since the New Year got underway, I have heard some absolute horror stories about what has been said to not only receptionists, who unfortunately seem to be the victim of the lion’s share of abuse, but GPs, Nurses and just about anyone who a patient can set their eyes on.

The issues GPs are facing in their practice

What makes a lot of the abuse so disgusting is that it becomes personal to the person being abused. For instance, I spoke with a Practice Manager just before Christmas who said that one of his GPs had seen a patient who was not happy about how long they had to wait for a face-to-face appointment. The GP stood her ground and defended how busy the practice had been and tried to explain that the surgery was doing all it could to help patients be treated as quickly as possible. Not satisfied with the GP’s answer, the patient declared that they were going to stay in the car park and wait for the GP to leave, so that they could follow them home and find out where they live. What do you make of that?!

Another practice recently informed me of how one of their receptionists was racially abused by a patient who was not able to get their prescription on the same day they had wanted (it was due for collection the next day). After patiently and calmly explaining the situation to the patient, the receptionist was subjected to verbal racial abuse.

Damage to practice property

It’s not just verbal abuse either. A surgery in a relatively charming little village in the south-east of England recently had its entire waiting area completely trashed by a rampaging patient, with chairs turned over, tables smashed and other patients rushing out to escape the danger! Another, not too far away, had the automatic doors kicked-in and smashed by an unhappy patient, costing the practice thousands of pounds to get fixed. A cost they could seriously have done without!

Respect your GP Surgery

What I am trying to highlight with this information is the disgusting, abhorrent, racial and sometimes physical abuse that GPs, nurses, allied health professionals, receptionists and even managers are receiving from people they are trying to help! I don’t know if it’s the ridiculous sense of self-entitlement that seems to be running riot these days in patients, with every Tom, Dick and Harry believing that their ailment MUST be dealt with RIGHT NOW and nothing else in the world matters, or if the post-lockdown world we now live in has given people a bloated sense of self-importance.

However, what I do know is that this abuse has to stop. There have been instances where practices have literally had to shut their doors because they don’t have enough receptionists to run them, after so many of them received so much abuse over the phone from patients!

If you’re a patient at a practice and you need to make contact with them, just do your bit to make the staff feel appreciated; whether it’s a receptionist, a GP, a Nurse, or anyone else. These people are working long hours and doing everything they possibly can to provide a healthcare service to us and do not deserve any of this completely unjustified abuse they are receiving. They are human beings. Be kind.

The word essential with a pink heart






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