GPs at breaking point as some patients struggle to get appointments

Verbal abuse against staff in GP surgeries has become an all too common occurrence and Birley Health Centre in Sheffield is no exception. 

Dr Allen who works at the surgery says he experienced it only yesterday: "She said I was a disgusting doctor and that I needed training.

"If they've got a temperature or a cough, there's a safer place for them to be examined but she was determined that she wanted to be examined here and even though we could arrange a taxi for her she still became quite abusive on the phone and hung up."

A survey by the British Medical Association found that fifty-one per cent of GPs had experienced verbal abuse in a one month period with one in five being threatened - but often receptionists are first in the firing line. 

Sam Blackburn has only be working at the practice for four weeks.

A rise in demand for GP services coupled with a backlog that's developed over the course of lockdown has left many finding it difficult to get an appointments.

Across the region the picture varies: 

At Birley Health Centre they can take up to five thousand calls in a week.  Many of those are dealt with by the reception staff but still there are more eight hundred requests to see a GP and there are only seven of them.

Dr Charles Heatley says demand is the highest he's seen in the 28 years he's worked there.

"It's never been as busy, the days are eleven hours long so we know that there is a huge amount of need and I think when people get frustrated they're anxious and anxiety often comes out as anger when people are faced with what they perceive as barriers."

With the extra pressures of the flu jab rollout and the covid booster jab, GPs are worried about the winter.

"My big concern with this at the moment is the pressures that we're under and the impact that that is having on patients is straining the relationship between us and patients and that is so sad to me because we care so much about patients and we want to make, we want to do the absolute best that we can. "