By Helen Ford, Health Correspondent
GPs and their staff say they're at 'breaking point' after an increase in abuse from patients. They say the issue has become worse in recent months, at a time when they are also dealing with a huge increase in workload as a result of the pandemic.Amanda Bargewell runs a busy medical centre close to Newcastle city centre with ten GPs and 27 other staff. She says that for some, the working day has become intolerable.She said: "It involves on a daily basis the reception staff being subjected to swearing to the level that they no longer report it to me.
Staff say the abuse comes on the phone and online. Much of it stems from frustrations over the wait for appointments in the wake of the pandemic. Practices say they are dealing with a huge backlog of patients, while also helping to administer the COVID vaccine programme.Now, practices across Newcastle have come together, to urge patients to 'Be Kind'.
Dr Brigid Joughin, who practices in the west of the city, is among those supporting the campaign. She says bad behaviour towards surgery staff is prompting some to walk away.She said: "I think it's making their jobs incredibly difficult and it's sometimes impossible and people are leaving.
Amanda Bargewell describes morale as being 'at an all time low'. She told me: "We've given everything and there's nothing left".Practices are keen to stress that many patients behave considerately. They're calling on others to show the same respect, for the health and wellbeing of all.