HEALTH chiefs across Tees Valley have issued an urgent plea for people to ‘please be patient’ when contacting their GP surgery.
The move follows a sharp increase in the demand for primary care services and a rise in abuse directed toward practice staff.
Dr Janet Walker, medical director, NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group, (CCG), said: “GP surgeries across Tees Valley remained open during the pandemic, offering telephone consultations and face-to-face appointments where required, and throughout this time everyone worked extremely hard doing their absolute best to support patients.
“The pandemic is not over; infection rates and hospital admissions are still rising and the demand for primary care services has continued to grow with practices receiving many more calls a day than they did before.
“Unfortunately, what we are also seeing is a rise in the levels of abuse from thankfully a minority of people who might be finding it difficult to get through on the phone or to make an appointment with a GP when they want to.
“This is wholly unacceptable and not only negatively affects staff morale and impacts on their mental health, but also makes it harder for them to do their job and deliver the care that people need.”
An Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) campaign recently 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.
“We understand why people feel frustrated, but many of the things they are frustrated about are not necessarily the responsibility of the staff they speak to, added Dr Walker. “Sometimes, staff can be just as frustrated as the patients themselves.
“It is really important that people continue to put their health first and seek medical help when they need it. 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 what are still very challenging times for everyone.”