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DEMORALISED: Struggling staff facing hostility and abuse

DEMORALISED: Struggling staff facing hostility and abuse

Dr Tom Tasker, Salford CCG chair, Image: Salford CCG

A Salford GP has spoken of struggling staff who are facing hostility and abuse.

Dr Tom Tasker, who oversees general practice across Greater Manchester, has said staff are ‘demoralised’ and ‘burnt out’ – but they are still doing their best.

However, he believes a ‘disconnect’ with the public has led to abuse aimed at NHS workers which is being experienced at GP practices across the region.

It comes after four members of staff at Florence House Medical Practice in Openshaw were injured in an attack which left a GP with a fractured skull.

Dr Tasker, who chairs Salford’s clinical commissioning group (CCG), lamented the lack of a ‘national outcry’ after the incident which took place 11 days ago.

He spoke of an ‘anti-GP media campaign’ which has been ‘orchestrated nationally’ and criticised the ‘lack of support’ from central government.

The GP, who currently works at St Andrews Medical Centre in Eccles, made the comments to the Salford CCG governing body on Wednesday (September 29).

He said: “I’ve been a GP for 25 years and I’ve not known a situation like this before. We all need to work together to try and steady the ship.

“This is really important because if general practice falls over, the whole of the NHS falls over – and that is not a situation that any of us want to see.”

Dr Tasker described a ‘disconnect’ with members of the public who do not understand why patients are still asked to wear face coverings and observe social distancing while football grounds and music arenas are open as usual.

He explained that, although GPs are working remotely, patients are brought into practices for face-to-face appointments when it is clinically necessary.

The GP also spoke of the ‘huge pressure’ being faced by the whole health care system and the ‘nervousness’ among staff about demand during the winter.

He said: “It is tough. And it’s tough for our public because they’ve tried to work with us throughout the pandemic and now they’re having to continue to wait – in some cases longer than they would like to. So it is a difficult situation.”

However, he raised concerns about some patients turning against NHS staff.

He added: “That really worries me because our patients have always been with us generally. They’ve seen how hard we work in general practice and we’re doing our best with limited resources. They’ve largely been with us in terms of understanding, but I think for a significant minority that is no longer the case.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “This government has zero tolerance for abuse or violence directed at NHS staff.

“We are taking action to protect staff through the NHS Violence Reduction Programme and will support the NHS, police and the Crown Prosecution Service to bring offenders to justice.

“We are incredibly grateful for the tireless efforts of general practice staff throughout the pandemic who have the right to work free from fear of assault or abuse in a safe and secure environment.”

 

Words: Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter


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