York GP staff looking to quit in the face of ‘public anger’
GP receptionists across York are considering quitting their jobs as they face anger from the public over the strain on primary care services, a meeting of health professionals heard.
York GPs said that while they were dealing with more patients than ever before, members of the public were angry because there was a “perception that we’re not working”.
Dr Emma Broughton, of the Priory Medical Group, which has nine centres across York, said: “I’ve just come out of a very sad meeting today because over half of our receptionists are considering whether this is a job they want to stay in because of the public anger towards general practice.
“The damage that’s been done publicly to our profession, at a time when we couldn’t have been under more stress, is very damaging.”
City of York Council’s health and wellbeing board were discussing a report by Healthwatch York into GP services.
The report found that while the use of telephone and online consultations has actually increased the number of appointments available, demand still outstrips supply.
The report, collated over the past seven months, shows many patients have struggled to get appointments, or even get through to their surgery at all.
Healthwatch chair Janet Wright said that her organisation tried to get the people it serves to understand the strain GP services are under.
Nevertheless, a “divisive” narrative fuelled by the national press about GPs was filtering down to patients, she said.
Ms Wright added: “We point out to people that GPs are tasked with more work than ever – they are delivering the vaccination programmes.
“People sometimes forget that GPs are human beings as well and they have their own family commitments – people get ill, people have to isolate – and they have to get to grips with ever-changing legislation and guidance on the way in which we’re all having to work at the moment.”
Dr Broughton said: “We are a limited resource and we are doing the best we can with the resource we have.
“I think every doctor has gone into medicine to try to do the best they can for the population that they serve.”
‘We’re very worried’
Dr Nigel Wells, Chair of the NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “If you think about the queue of ambulances that you see parked up at A&E, it’s the same in general practice, you just don’t see it.
“But people are queuing to get in and unfortunately, demand outstretches capacity and in primary care we’re very worried about that – we want to do the best for our patients.”
The meeting heard that while the “digital revolution” in GP services brought on by the pandemic had many benefits, there is still work to be done to ensure that those who struggle with technology are not left behind.