GP staff under threat

Reports of abusive and aggressive behaviour toward staff at GP practices have recently been on the rise nationally, and a number of surgeries across Buckinghamshire have experienced this, too.

NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group is asking patients to treat all members of staff at their GP practice with kindness and respect.

GP services have been open to patients throughout the pandemic, but have been working in different ways. There has been greater emphasis on remote assessments and patients have been invited for face-to-face appointments only when necessary. But GP practices have never closed their doors as a service; they have simply been operating in a COVID-safe way.

As restrictions ease, more face-to-face appointments are becoming available. But with the emergence of COVID variants an ongoing risk, it is important that practices still keep patients and staff safe, says the clinical commissioning group. This means that some COVID-secure ways of working will continue to be in place for the foreseeable future, including remote appointments.

Dr Raj Bajwa, GP and Chair of NHS Buckinghamshire group, said: ‘We understand and sympathise that some patients may be waiting slightly longer for certain treatments at the moment, or having to hold for longer on the phone. That is because we are extremely busy and are dealing with far more enquiries from patients than usual for this time of year.

‘While we understand some people may feel frustrated, it is not acceptable to behave aggressively toward members of staff who are simply doing their best to help them.

‘Some people – a small minority, I’m sure – seem to have the view that GP practices have not done much over the last year. I can assure you this could not be further from the truth. Practices have had a huge workload throughout the pandemic, not least of which the vaccination roll-out which has seen staff working flat out, with little chance for breaks.

‘Your GP practice is doing its best to help you. Every member of staff, whether receptionist, nurse, GP or any other, deserves to be treated with dignity. We simply cannot tolerate abuse or rudeness to our staff.

‘I recognise that this behaviour comes only from a very small minority of the public, and would like to thank patients throughout Buckinghamshire for their understanding and support.’