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Medics facing a rise of abuse from patients, research finds

BMA GP committee chairman calls for an ‘honest public conversation, led by the government and NHS England, about the precarious state the NHS’

MEDICS who have battled coronavirus on the front line for more than a year and a half have faced a rising torrent of abuse from patients, research found yesterday.

The British Medical Association (BMA) warned of an increasing level of abuse towards GPs as it called on the public to be kind to NHS workers.

A new poll from the doctors’ union found that more than a third of doctors have faced “recent abuse” from patients or those accompanying them to appointments.

This was even higher among GPs where half said they had been abused in some way during the last month.

One in five GPs reported being threatened, and 34 doctors said they had been physically assaulted.

Half reported seeing other staff abused by patients including nursing staff, receptionists and healthcare assistants.

A woman GP in south-west England said: “I was also told to ‘go back to where you come from’ by a patient who was unhappy at me being unable to tell him when he would be seen in hospital.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chairman, called for an “honest public conversation, led by the government and NHS England, about the precarious state the NHS now finds itself in after 18 months of managing a pandemic, so that people have realistic expectations, and to prevent staff bearing the brunt of frustration and anger.”

The survey comes after a warning that the NHS waiting list could rise to more than 14 million in England alone by autumn next year.

Dr Tony O’Sullivan, co-chair of national campaign Keep Our NHS Public, said personal threats and racist abuse “cannot be tolerated.”

He said: “The government has utterly failed both the NHS and patients.

“Staff are utterly exhausted covering illness and self-isolation on top of 100,000 vacancies.

“The pay offer is disgusting. Waiting lists are horrific, yet £10bn is offered to private hospitals rather than the NHS — total lack of respect from government that damages morale further. 

“We must make that message hit home: restore the NHS to health by investing in our excellent but stretched GPs community and hospital NHS staff, not private hospitals.”

The NHS said that it will “not tolerate” abuse or violence towards staff.

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