Zero Tolerance Policy and our commitment to support General Practice

From Dr David Crichton, Chair of the Doncaster CCG

You may be aware following recent news articles both in the national and local press that our general practice colleagues are still very much under extreme pressure and are working hard than ever to see their patients and deliver services safely in these unprecedented times. This is a common theme in other areas of medicine, as we’re dealing with several complex factors which is ultimately leading to high levels of demand on services.

We know that most patients are very appreciative of the care from health services and behave in a manner we would naturally expect from one human being to another. We thank all of you for your ongoing patience in these difficult times.

Unfortunately, there has been an increase in negative comments circulating and posted on various digital sites, many of which are inaccurate.

Sadly, we are also seeing an increase in abusive behaviour being directed towards our Primary care staff in Doncaster. The number of incidents is increasing in recent months to frontline NHS primary care workers across the borough. To the very people who are doing their best to help others.

Doncaster CCG are supporting GPs and pharmacists in Doncaster to combat any unacceptable behaviour under a new zero tolerance approach. Staff are being offered support and advice on dealing with the impact of this, along with guidance on processes for robustly dealing and reporting abuse that arises. The main aim of the zero-tolerance policy is to highlight that such behaviour will not be tolerated.

Practices are increasing staff levels and the number of appointments provided by making use of additional funding. These measures being taken aim to help alleviate some of the waits, which in turn can lead to frustrations vented by patients about perceived lack of access to their local surgery.

It can be demoralising for everyone working across the health sector to see the impact that such bad behaviour can have on the wellbeing of our practice or pharmacy staff.  Receptionists, GPs and pharmacists are among those who have experienced some terrible comments and even threats, whether that’s, face to face, on the phone or on social media. It’s neither warranted nor justified and can sadly result in people leaving their jobs from the stress that it causes.

Some of our surgeries and pharmacies already operate a zero-tolerance approach and now all will exercise their right to refuse to see or treat people who are persistently aggressive or abusive.

This aim is to support everyone in the borough’s primary care network by offering additional help to boost morale, motivation, aiding recruitment and retention of our staff.

It’s important to remember that everyone has been working in an increasingly difficult environment where demand for health services is at an all-time high. We are aware that people get frustrated if they can’t get an appointment.

I would like to ask members of the public to please be patient and kind to all our healthcare staff and remind residents that local pharmacists are a great source to access expert health advice for many minor ailments. 

Please, always think what your first port of call might be for the symptoms you’re experiencing. Basic self-management of simple conditions keeps more appointments available for those who really need them.

You can always check your symptoms here or you can try taking some simple first step actions such as painkillers first before you contact your GP practice,

The CCG has released a letter to all residents in Doncaster which can be found here


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