I WRITE this week with a heavy heart for its been yet another week where my wider general practice team have been at the end of unsolicited attacks, making it increasingly more challenging for us to do the work we are so desperately trying to do.

Last week we heard the horrific news of a GP colleague in Manchester who was violently assaulted by a “frustrated patient” sustaining a fractured skull whilst elsewhere in the UK, GP practice staff endured violent attacks by a patient. What is going on? I am both angry and deeply worried about the state of affairs for the NHS in our country, because if general practice collapses, the whole of the healthcare system will go down with it. Is this what people want?

Thankfully it is not what the general public want, far from it, but a minority have got it in for GPs and in combination with some media outlets, their voice has been magnified, amplifying the frustrations that patients are feeling.

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I am not going to deny there is a problem. There is absolutely a huge problem at hand right now, affecting both patients and GP teams alike but the solution is multi-layered and complex, something that the government needs to be tackling urgently. Action is needed and it is needed now.

Sadly abuse towards NHS healthcare workers is not new. Over recent decades we have seen a rise in both verbal and non-verbal abuse, something that I never imagined when I chose to study medicine. How could a vocation, which has “duty of care” embedded within its core,  be something that could become unsafe for those working within it?

In recent weeks some tabloids and news outlets have reported on the difficulties with accessing face to face appointments for patients. Whilst this is definitely an issue for some, the truth for why this is happening has been somewhat twisted giving the narrative that it is down to GPs being lazy or avoiding work.

It has caused a lot of upset and a real drop in morale of the very teams that people clapped for and praised during the pandemic, where most sectors closed and stopped except for GPs. The slogans on the daily briefings, the lockdown measures aimed to “protect the NHS,” – where has that all gone now when the NHS is in an unbelievable crisis?

Glasgow Times: Where has all of the respect for the health service gone? Where has all of the respect for the health service gone?

We in general practice, were told to go onto telephone and video consulting to protect the vulnerable patients. We adopted a model where we increased capacity as an aside, speaking to more patients in a day than we could have ever seen doing face to face appointments.

This was not how any of us were trained but we had to look after the health of the public and so we did. Over the last 18 months we have seen wait times for hospitals, which were already unacceptably long, get even longer. Non-essential care was stopped by hospitals and routine screening programmes also paused. In tandem, the burden of some medical conditions increased such as mental health and chronic diseases whilst we also saw the birth of new conditions like long covid. We welcomed a new vaccine to help get the nation out of repeated lockdowns and who picked up all of this extra workload? You guessed it, GPs.

It is hard not to get defensive. I work long hours and experience first hand the increasing pressures we are under to keep delivering care, but it never feels enough which is frustrating for us too. Throughout the day I speak to lots of patients trying to manage their problems and concerns which can be addressed remotely whilst also booking in everyone that needs to come in that day to be examined by me.


Our phones are ringing off the hook as our receptionists try to attend to everyone’s needs. They can only offer what capacity the doctors have. Prior to the pandemic we had a problem with appointments and wait times which has now doubled – we have to practice safely but at the moment, we can have up to 60 patient contacts a day, the brain fatigues.

This piece is not for sympathy or empathy. This is a piece by a GP on the ground who is fed up with being labelled as a work shy, lazy doctor.

This is in response to seeing my colleagues leaving the profession, becoming mentally unwell or even being attacked. We have a recruitment and retention crisis; we simply cannot afford to lose any more GPs. Whilst many will be kind and value their GP teams, for any of you with frustrations, I do understand.

The problem, however, does not lie with your GP practice receptionists, nurses, pharmacists, district nurses or GPs – it lies with the government who need to address the real elephant in the room – funding, more doctors, ownership and a genuine apology and thank you to the GP teams who are being victimised on their behalf.