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GP practice asks patients to stop making staff cry

by Anna Colivicchi
8 January 2024

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A GP practice in Cumbria has appealed to its patients after ‘an increase in abuse’ and ‘inappropriate behaviour’ brought staff to tears.

The Workington GP Practice, which looks after 33,500 patients across several sites, said it is ‘hugely concerned’ about the welfare of its staff and is ‘afraid it will lose good team members’ if the levels of abuse and threats continue to increase.

In a statement, the practice said: ‘Sadly, we are seeing an increase in abuse and inappropriate behaviour towards our staff from a small minority of patients.

‘We have a high level of tolerance and understanding but over recent weeks we have had a number of our front line team members who have been upset and brought to tears due to the actions of patients who are raising their voice, shouting, swearing, making rude gestures or showing abusive behaviour.’

The practice also said staff have seen an increase in abusive behaviour on social media, adding: ‘Our staff see these comments and they are as hurtful and unacceptable as if they were said face to face.

‘This kind of behaviour could result in a warning and a repeat of that behaviour will result in the possibility of the patient being removed from our practice list.

‘Any threats or physical violence will result in immediate removal from our list and the police will be called.’

The practice added that the reception team deal with over 1500 calls on some days and lines can be busy but that it is moving to a total triage system from 10 January in a bid to improve access.

The statement said: ‘We know things are frustrating with the system as a whole and hope that our new way of working from 10 January will improve our patients’ experience. Thank you for your continued support for our team.’

Last month, a UK-wide survey of more than 2,000 doctors – of which 617 were GPs – found that 85% of GPs have reported receiving verbal abuse from patients within the last 12 months.

And GPs were encouraged to identify abusive or violent patients who may benefit from a rehabilitation programme.

A version of this story was first published on our sister title Pulse