A GP surgery in Cumbria has taken to social media to highlight what it describes as “totally unacceptable abuse” its staff are being subjected to by patients.
Silloth Group Medical Practice posted on its Facebook page that the volume of abuse staff are receiving at the surgery is “continuing on a level that is totally unacceptable”.
The post said: “Our staff are working very hard dealing with an unprecedented number of telephone calls each morning. We are well aware of how frustrating this is for patients when calling for an appointment only to be told that the appointments for the day have gone.
“If this is the case and you feel that you need to speak to a GP the same day please explain this to the receptionist who will pass your concerns onto the GP for advice. Please also bear in mind that we are dealing with COVID boosters and are also in the middle of a flu campaign which all have to be organised and staffed.
“The ‘on the day’ telephone appointments are being abused by patients who are using this time to discuss longstanding issues that could be booked into a routine afternoon appointment leaving the ‘on the day’ appointments free for those who really need to be contacted/seen that same day.
“We are also receiving numerous requests from patients who only wish to see a particular doctor and refuse to see anyone else. These requests will not be tolerated and we will not be held to ransom with these requests. We have a duty doctor on call every day to deal with emergencies and it will be this doctor who will see you.
“We know that this only relates to a small number of patients and that most of our patients are understanding and mindful of the staff that are here to help you and we appreciate this. Our staff do not deserve to be treated this way and any patient who is abusive or aggressive towards our staff will receive a letter informing them that if this behaviour continues then they will be removed from our list.
“Please be kind to our staff – they are here to help you.”
Meanwhile, Rod Jones, a former GP who previously worked at the practice, posted the following: “It is with great sadness that I hear our surgery here in Silloth has been subjected to abuse. I worked there for 34 years and was always treated with kindness which is the usual default behaviour of Silloth people.
“However none of us is perfect but as doctors, nurses, healthcare staff and office staff we did our best and still do. There has been great cuts in doctors and nurses due to austerity over 10 years, Brexit and now COVID. People attending the surgery need to wear face coverings and the staff have to clean down chairs, tables as well as change protective clothing between patients. This all takes time.
“The RCGP (Royal College of General Practice) does regular surveys and just published this week is one carried out in August showing GP practices did nearly a million consultations daily and half were face to face consultations. GPs, nurses, support staff are fed up with this abuse, the increase in workload, and are now leaving the service.
“Please people be patient and more understanding, remember the service is free and hopefully will remain so, but if this type of abuse continues it won’t be free much longer.”