HEALTH chiefs in Tees Valley have condemned the rising levels of abuse directed towards GP practice staff as wholly unacceptable.
The move follows a surge in the number of staff being subjected to violent threats and verbal assaults as demand for primary care services continues to increase.
David Gallagher, Chief Officer, NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (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”.
In May 2022, 80 GP practices across Tees Valley saw over 268,000 attendances with 63% of appointments (over 169,000) being face to face.
More than 125,000 (46%) 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.
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 David 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.”