GMC says there is no place for abuse as survey reveals 3/4 of GPs have faced an increase in abuse or aggression during the course of the pandemic.

A survey investigated how healthcare professionals’ experiences in the workplace had changed between the first and second year of the pandemic.

  • Amongst Scottish GPs, 38% said verbal abuse from patients towards them and their practice staff had “significantly increased”, with a further 39% saying it had “somewhat increased”.
  • Of those GPs who had experienced verbal abuse or aggression in the workplace, 83% said they were feeling more stressed than they did in 2020 when the country first went into lockdown.
  •  More than half (51%) of GPs said they were considering taking early retirement or leaving their profession altogether, citing increased workloads, mental health and wellbeing, and staff shortages as the main reasons.
  • female GPs were more likely to face verbal abuse or aggression, with 81% of women doctors saying they had experienced an increase in this kind of patient behaviour compared with 72% of their male colleagues.

Anthony Omo, director of fitness to practise and general counsel at the General Medical Council, said:

 “There can be no place for any form of abuse in medicine. Everyone is entitled to work, or receive medical treatment, in a safe and inclusive environment and it is wholly unacceptable for family doctors to be subjected to abuse from patients.

“Primary care is operating under sustained workload pressures and for doctors to be subjected to such behaviour only exacerbates the very challenging situations they are already working in.

“We have reassured medical professionals that the exceptional circumstances will always be taken into account should any concerns be raised regarding a doctor or their practice during these challenging times.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said:

“No one should be the victim of abuse or violence while at work and assaults on NHS staff are completely unacceptable. We continue to encourage all NHS organisations to support staff to report incidents so that action can be considered against perpetrators.

“Anyone attending a health care or clinical setting should remember that staff are there to help them and not to be abused. The wellbeing of practice staff is hugely important and a number of resources have been developed to support them.”