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Campaign launched as 75% of practice staff report receiving daily abuse from patients

by Jess Hacker
20 May 2021

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As many as three-quarters (75%) of practice staff receive abusive comments from patients daily, a survey has shown ahead of the launch of a new campaign to highlight the abuse.

The survey of 571 practice managers – conducted by the Institute for General Practice Management (IGPM) – found that the majority (83%) had needed to remove a patient following multiple incidents, and 63% had called the police because of abusive behaviour.

The survey findings coincide with the launch of a campaign from the IGPM to end all abuse towards general practice staff, marked with the release of a video featuring staff reading out examples of abuse they have received.

These include verbal threats – including ‘If I die, it will be your fault’ and ‘I pay your wages so give me what I want’ – racist or sexist comments, and acts of violence, such as a patient slashing staff members’ tyres.

Kay Keane, practice manager of Alvanley Family Practice, Stockport, and director of the IGPM, said: ‘A man attended our practice with six knives because he didn’t get the treatment he wanted. He smashed up the waiting room and threatened staff members.

‘It was a scene we never want repeated in a GP practice. It was terrifying and unnecessary. But we also know this is extreme. Bad language and threats are an everyday occurrence, and it is unacceptable.’

Robyn Clark, practice manager at Kingswood Health Centre, Bristol, and one of the founders of the IGPM said that the amount of abuse has increased alongside demand for GP services.

‘The aim of our campaign is to highlight the good work practices are doing, and make a plea to the public to be patient with our staff, instead of attacking them,’ she said.

‘GP staff have worked throughout the pandemic and have done their absolute best to support patients. We’re calling for the abuse to end now.’

Last year, practice managers told Management in Practice how they were dealing with a spike in abuse from patients during the pandemic.