'Be respectful' plea as GP receptionists left in tears by abuse

Patients have been urged to be respectful when talking to GP receptionists after it was revealed staff have been left "shaken and in tears" by abuse.

Dr Radiya Kurfi, from Stafford's Wolverhampton Road surgery, called on people to show understanding and be kind when they call their practice.

It comes as most receptionists have now been trained to be "care navigators" and triage who who is the most appropriate person to help each patient.

Dr Kurfi said: "They don’t just answer the phone. They try really hard to navigate people to the right care, and there are more specialist staff available than you might think. For instance, if you ring in with a problem with your bones or muscles, a first contact physiotherapist may be the best person to see initially.

"They do get really busy, and there are occasions when our staff face rudeness from patients and it’s pretty unpleasant. I have known verbally aggressive people leave receptionist colleagues shaken and in tears – nobody should have to experience that.

"If they ask you for certain information, it is so they can better help you. Please help them to do their job properly, by giving them the details they need.

"Our care navigators are a vital part of our team. They are professional and we would ask that you treat them with respect."

It comes after staff across the NHS in Staffordshire took a stand together in November last year and called for the abuse – including shouting, intimidation and threats – to stop.

Dr Steve Fawcett, medical director for the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, which draw their members from all GP practices, said at the time: "Unfortunately we are experiencing this issue in a number of our local NHS services, however, it is now having a particular impact in primary care – our GP surgeries across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent - which is where most people come into contact with health services.

“We are particularly concerned at the hostility that many of our reception staff now face regularly from a small minority of patients.

"We have rising demand and we are still having to manage the Covid pandemic which means there is still a need for infection prevention and control in our surgeries.

"We know this is causing many people to become frustrated. However, taking these frustrations out on hard working reception staff is not the answer and can never be condoned, and we will back our practices to take any action they think is necessary to deal with this behaviour."

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