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Practice managers condemn Government inaction on abuse of practice staff

by Jess Hacker
10 September 2021

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Practice managers have urged the Health Secretary to publicly condemn the ‘indefensible’ abuse directed at general practice staff.

In a letter delivered via email to Health Secretary Sajid Javid (9 September), the Institute of General Practice Management (IGPM) said that there is a ‘lack of central support, or public challenge by Government’ of increasing instances of abuse towards those working in primary care.

‘GPs, practice managers, and other primary care professionals share patients’ frustrations when they face long delays for an appointment or long waiting times to get through to their surgery,’ said the letter, which was co-signed by the BMA, the RCGP and the NHS Confederation.

‘But it is important to remember that we are all on the same side and all want to ensure high-quality care is delivered when needed.’

The letter comes after a summer which saw a significant increase in patient abuse against staff.

A June survey indicated that as many as 75% of practice managers, practice nurses and GPs have suffered verbal abuse from patients during the course of the Covid-19 vaccination campaign.

The signatories have now said that the situation would be ‘indefensible under normal circumstances’ but that in light of Covid-19-associated pressures, the damage could be ‘irreversible’ as staff reconsider their future in general practice.

This abuse has been compounded by press coverage, in which some outlets have ‘repeatedly attacked, insulted and scapegoated’ GPs and their teams, they said.

Meanwhile, the ongoing blood test tube shortage has led to further criticism of GPs for postponing tests ‘even though the situation is beyond their control and under national guidance’.

They told the Health Secretary he must ‘publicly support and defend dedicated GPs and primary care staff against this onslaught of misinformation and abuse’.

The signatories added that patient care must be protected by looking after those who provide care.

They also asked to meet with Mr Javid to discuss the concerns outlined in more detail and to ensure appropriate support is provided.