'Abuse GP staff and face being struck off' Doncaster health bosses warn troublesome patients in new campaign

Patients who repeatedly abuse GPs and their staff in Doncaster could be banned from attending their surgery under a new campaign, senior health bosses have warned.

Tuesday, 16th November 2021, 5:00 am
Doncaster GP surgeries have reported an increase in abuse towards staff

Bosses from Doncaster NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) told councillors at a recent meeting that patients will be threatened from being taken off their GP register if staff are verbally harassed and abused.

It comes as GP access has come under even more pressure as patients struggle to get appointments across the country with the catch-up from Covid-19 being the main factor.

Reports have found that there has been an increase towards abuse of frontline staff who work in GP surgeries.

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Anthony Fitzgerald, from Doncaster CCG said they will soon be launching a ‘Zero Tolerance’ campaign in order to get the message across that abuse is not acceptable towards staff.

The latest NHS staff survey found a third of staff claimed to have experienced at least one incident of bullying, harassment or abuse from service users, their relatives or other members of the public.

Health bosses did recognise that accessing some GP surgeries in Doncaster has become more difficult but plans were being drawn up in order to combat waiting times.

Conisbrough Coun Nigel Ball said while abuse of staff is wrong, he raised concerns that people that cannot express themselves well could be struck off right away.

“From my perspective, what I’m told in the community that I represent is that there is an issue with accessing GP surgeries. I get this from people on the street as well from people on social media,” Coun Ball said.

“With this plan on zero tolerance on abuse at surgeries, everyone does get frustrated, we all do but what I’d be extremely concerned about is for those people who cannot articulate themselves very well are being struck off straight away.

“What I’d like to see is people being told that they can complain through the proper channels and challenge surgeries in the right way.”

In response, Dr Dean Eggitt, said: “Zero tolerance policies are particularly challenging in health care to get right and to do in a very respectful way because we know when patients are ill, some people lose their temper and some people get frustrated – that’s part of illness.

“We’re very aware in health and social care that sometimes our patients come across in such a way that does not really represent who they are – we’re quite used to that.

“What we’re not used to is those patients who aren’t unwell, they don’t have a disability but they’re just trying to jump the queue.

“We’re mindful that people are always challenging to deal with through being rude and we won’t kick people off registers willy nilly – it’s actually incredibly difficult to remove someone from a list and there’s a lot of stage before that happens.

“If we don’t do anything to address this then we will lose staff and the situation around access will get worse.”