Staff at GP surgeries have said they face “daily and relentless” abuse from patients angered by the increase in remote appointments.
The comments come after GPs reacted with fury to new Government plans to name and shame surgeries that fail to provide an appropriate level of “access”, as patients are given a new right to demand face-to-face appointments.
Dr Prakash Kachhala, 37, said a receptionist at his surgery in Nottinghamshire was in tears on Thursday morning as a result of patient abuse over the phone.
(I'm) exhausted, numb, heartbroken, angry, tired.
Dr Prakash Kachhala
“It’s daily and relentless,” Dr Kachhala told the PA news agency.
“Patients (are) frustrated, understandably about waits and Covid precautions, but blame the hardworking staff that are trying to hold up a system in crisis.
“(I’m) exhausted, numb, heartbroken, angry, tired.”
A London-based GP described one incident of physical abuse where an “aggressive” patient “came in with the intent to injure” staff.
“The receptionist was absolutely in tears,” Dr Yasmin Razak, 42, told PA.
“Another patient stepped in to intervene … they both went outside and had a physical fight.”
Dr Samantha Haley-Horsfall, a junior doctor working in Leeds described being shouted at by a patient’s relative.
“(There were) multiple questions of ‘why aren’t you seeing us?'” the 32-year-old told PA.
“It’s incredibly difficult at the minute … constant hostility everywhere.”
Dr Haley-Horsfall said she is in a Facebook group with “about 20,000” other doctors on which she said there are “constant posts about people being abused in one way or another”.
Speaking on behalf of myGP, an app that allows you to book GP appointments and order prescriptions, Hillary Cannon said she had heard from GPs who felt they “can’t keep their staff safe”.
“The staff don’t want to come to work … they’re afraid they’re going to be abused,” Ms Cannon said.
“The public needs to understand what the purpose is of a GP (and) what their workload is actually like.”
“And they need a strong reminder that GPs have just saved us from this pandemic.
“You think about young people coming through education right now… how attractive is the GP profession looking to them?”