Patients urged to be kind as abuse prompts GP staff in North Yorkshire to quit


Dec 6, 2021
Leeds Road GP surgery
The Leeds Road Practice in Harrogate.

Doctors’ leaders in North Yorkshire have said experienced frontline GP practice staff are being driven out of their jobs because of verbal abuse from patients.

They warned today that surgeries are experiencing a surge in demand for appointments and an aggressive minority is “making the working lives of reception and admin teams a misery”.

They said there had been a wave of resignations among experienced and skilled reception staff from a number of practices in North Yorkshire in recent months because they could no longer put up with the levels of verbal abuse and hostility.

YorLMC – the professional voice for NHS GPs and practice teams across North Yorkshire and City of York, called for the abuse to stop in a statement today.

Dr Brian McGregor, YorLMC’s medical secretary, said:

“Most patients recognise the brilliant job practice reception teams do, but regrettably, there are some who think it’s acceptable to shout, swear, belittle and threaten them and other staff.

“The cumulative impact of these instances of aggression, prejudice, threats and offensive language, is leading to some highly valued members of staff choosing to walk away from a job they’ve loved, while others say they now dread coming into work.

“The NHS is very clear – there is no place for this sort of aggressive behaviour and it has a zero tolerance approach to abuse. If a person is violent, abusive or threatening to their GP or any general practice staff, they could be permanently removed from the surgery.”

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Last week the Leeds Road practice in Harrogate urged patients to be respectful amid rising demand for appointments.

NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group clinical chair, Dr Charles Parker, added:

“We understand it’s a difficult time for patients. Surgery phone lines are busy, a lot of people want appointments and a lot of people have worries about their health they have been putting off, but now want dealing with quickly.

“However, it is not an excuse to shout, swear or threaten the people who are trying their hardest to help. Some of the abuse our practice teams have been receiving is verging on the criminal and has reduced even the most resilient and experienced members of staff to tears.”

Many patients are frustrated at not always being able to see their GP face-to-face.

But today’s statement said practice staff were skilled at finding the person “most appropriate to meet their clinical needs, which may not always be a GP or nurse”.


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