Pauline Hunter: I know it’s no excuse but the service that is being provided is shameful and patients are now at breaking point – hence their behaviour! It was hard enough to get an appointment pre-Covid but now…
Vicki Boudali: If they started seeing patients I’m sure this would reduce any abusive behaviour. Patients are frustrated by not being able to make a GP appointment. Receptionist asking what’s wrong and deciding if you need to speak to a doctor… someone needs to take it in hand. The rest of life has resumed so why make it so difficult to see a doctor?
Kerry Millar: The feeling is mutual for NHS staff who are too at breaking point and trying to provide the best service they can whilst being chronically underfunded and understaffed. Rather than calling them and their attempt to provide a service shameful, perhaps point the finger at policy-makers and those at government level who have run it into the ground. There is a reason most practices are barely getting by with locums. There’s a reason they can't keep and recruit nurses to the NHS. There’s a reason the receptionist is answering with an attitude because they have answered the phone to another 20 just like you before them. The increasing costs, litigation, decrease in staffing, increase in paperwork, decrease in payment in accordance to inflation and running costs, alongside patient expectation and abuse simply starts to cost too much. Doctors have one of the highest suicide rates. Perhaps the contracts are just not fit for purpose and don't allow the correct number of staff to be funded appropriately. Therefore the service can't be run efficiently. But keep having a go at the likes of a receptionist who likely will leave because they have had enough – and that's another staff void they can't fill.
Stephen McGill: To be fair, the abuse will be over the phone and most angry punters will have calmed down during the two-week wait for a phone consultation.
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Irena Wilsonski: Everyone receives abuse from the public nowadays and when people are unwell they are worse. I think we can forgive them when they are unwell.
Jason Bovaird: Frustrated folk outlining their rights to these professionals who are pulling services at will with no consequences for themselves is being repackaged as GPs being abused.
Liz Elliott: There is a widespread perception UK-wide of being very badly served by their GP practices during the recent Covid drama. The heroes were the practice nurses that did manage to function and provide a home service to the most vulnerable. Many of these nurses find it difficult to find a good word about their bosses!
Graham Senior: My GP son saw patients in his surgery, their home or care home if they needed to be seen, but most don’t need a face-to-face appointment. His surgery has lost two receptionists following loads of abuse, and he himself has been threatened with violence more than once for refusing to issue a prescription without a face-to-face meeting. About nine years ago my surgery did an audit of every appointment over a nine-month period. They found that two thirds of patients could have been dealt with over the phone – only one in three patients needed to be seen. So they introduced telephone triage where you call (and they have increased number of phone lines and reception staff) and give a brief description of your issue, and then within an hour or so a GP calls you back. If you need to be seen you are seen within a couple of hours, rather than a week on Tuesday like before. GPs have not lost respect – they are dealing with twice as many patients as they did before the pandemic. Across the UK there are 330 million NHS appointments – 300m are done in a GP’s surgery.
Nel Greig: This abuse is dreadful but is it not a sign of the times? It's almost that GPs are the first line when hospitals and the ambulance service is stretched to the hilt with so many people waiting for hospital appointments for procedures. Patients are so frustrated. The Scottish Government needs to demonstrate that has plans to fix our NHS and then the abuse might start to reduce.
Martin Allan: How can there be abuse of GPs if there was no access to them?
Alain Traynor: It's the GPs who are abusing far too many of their patients through the misuse of their position.