Abuse of GPs is ‘unacceptable’ - nobody should feel threatened while delivering care, says College

Responding to a Pulse survey that revealed widespread physical and verbal abuse of GPs and their staff, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said:

"The findings from this survey are deeply concerning as they show that abuse is now a common experience for GPs and practice staff who are working to their limits – and the reports of physical abuse are particularly distressing. It’s entirely unacceptable for anyone working in general practice to be at the receiving end of abuse of any kind when they are just doing their best to deliver safe, timely and appropriate care for their patients.

"We share our patients’ frustrations when they have difficulty accessing our services, but the vast majority appreciate that GPs and our teams are doing the best we can under intense workload and workforce pressures. The reality is that having to work in these circumstances, with the additional worry that you may face abuse, sometimes on a daily basis, will have a significant impact on the mental health, wellbeing and morale of individual doctors and practice staff.

“Ultimately, decades of underfunding and inadequate workforce planning have left general practice struggling at a time when patient needs are growing in complexity and volume. As a result, more GPs are leaving the profession than are entering it. This is why the College is calling on Government to rapidly deliver a new recruitment and retention strategy. One that goes beyond the promise of 6,000 more GPs pledged in its 2019 election manifesto, and return funding for general practice to 11% of the total NHS spend. We also want further investment in our IT systems and premises, and steps to cut bureaucracy to give GPs more time to deliver patient care.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editors

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 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.