Whilst we are exceptionally grateful for the lovely patients who are so kind and courteous to our staff (this is most of you); over the past few months our teams have been experiencing more and more abuse from a small minority of patients who feel they can shout and swear at us when we are not able to meet their expectations. We are sure you will agree this is not appropriate behaviour towards our loyal and dedicated staff members who are doing their absolute best to help in circumstances that remain challenging.
Since COVID restrictions started to ease, we have been experiencing a much higher demand. This in part is because many people did not access health services for many months at the start of the pandemic.
This has increased our workload significantly and health problems can now be more difficult to address given the more advanced status of some of the issues we're seeing.
Indeed, you will have seen in the news that all areas of the healthcare sector are under increased pressure right now. This demand is inevitably affecting our telephone lines and some patients may have a longer wait on the telephone than might normally be the case (and longer than we would ideally like) whilst we deal with complex matters.
We have seen criticism that we have not been open or haven't been seeing patients face-to-face. This is categorically not true and it's a myth we're eager to bust; we have been open and seeing patients in person following telephone triage right throughout the pandemic. We have been careful in only allowing limited numbers of patients into the practice in order to keep you and our teams safe.
The number of COVID cases in our community is still extremely high and by the very nature of who we are and what we do, many of our patients are elderly and some may have complex health conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-related illness. We owe it to patients to remain careful and vigilant which is why measures like social distancing in waiting rooms, PPE and enhanced cleaning remain in place. This does mean we have to manage the availability of face-to-face appointments quite carefully, though patients will always be seen in person where there is a clinical need. We also have some directly bookable face-to-face appointments, however you may wait longer as these are less of these appointments than pre-pandemic.
We hope the measures that are still in place in our practice are reassuring to those patients who need to see us in person and may still be nervous about COVID restrictions being eased because of their existing health condition.
As we look back over the last 18 months of the pandemic and reflect on the amazing things we've achieved, including our contribution to the largest ever vaccination programme in the history of the NHS, we also remember how morale-boosting and heart-warming it was to see so many of you, our patients, on your doorsteps, clapping and bashing your pots and pans in appreciation of the NHS and healthcare workers. It meant a great deal to everyone in our practice.
We are not asking people to repeat the gesture now. All we ask is that patients are courteous and respectful to our teams who are trying their best to help you. A little kindness does indeed go a long way, particularly at the moment. We would like to politely remind patients that any abuse towards our staff members will not be tolerated, and we reserve the right to ask such patients to find another GP practice.
Thank you for your support.