Abuse towards GPs ‘completely unacceptable’

The College has appeared in the media at the weekend, responding to reports of abuse towards GP teams.

Here is our full statement:

Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It’s entirely unacceptable for anyone working in general practice to be at the receiving end of abuse of any kind, let alone the threat of physical violence. It can have a huge personal impact on the mental health, wellbeing and morale of individual doctors and practice staff at a time when they are busier than ever, providing high-quality care to patients with Covid-19 and conditions unrelated to the virus, in addition to delivering two thirds of all Covid vaccines and preparing for the biggest-ever winter flu vaccination programme.

“The vast majority of patients appreciate that GPs and our teams right across the country are doing the best we can and treat our staff with respect, but we understand their frustrations when they can’t get a GP appointment or face long waiting times to get through to the surgery.

“However, it’s a misconception that GPs aren’t seeing patients face to face. General practice has been open throughout the pandemic and face to face appointments have been offered wherever safe and appropriate. GPs had to switch to largely remote consultations at the start of the pandemic out of necessity for infection control and to protect their patients and themselves from the virus. In fact, general practice is now making more patient consultations than before the pandemic, with well over half being face to face.

“The real issue is that we have a huge shortage of GPs and our workforce is not big enough to manage the needs of an ageing and growing patient population with increasingly complex needs. This was the case before the pandemic and it has only been further exacerbated by the events of the past year. The Government made a manifesto pledge of an additional 6,000 GPs by 2024 – plus 26,000 additional practice staff - and we urgently need these numbers to be delivered so that we can safely deliver the care and services that our patients need, now and in the future.”

Further information

(For media only)

RCGP Press office – 020 3188 7633/7494/7574
Out of hours: 020 3188 7659 

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.