Fishponds GP speaks out over 'violent and aggressive' behaviour from patients

December 30 2021
Fishponds GP speaks out over 'violent and aggressive' behaviour from patients

A FISHPONDS doctor has called for more understanding towards NHS workers amid a rise in "violent and aggressive" behaviour from the public.

Dr Katrina Boutin, GP at Old School Surgery in Fishponds, spoke out as part of a campaign by Bristol NHS health and care organisations asking people to be kind and respectful.

The campaign, called It’s not OK, comes as the trust which runs Bristol's city centre hospitals reported a 46% increase in incidents of violence and aggression, both verbal and physical, from 881 in the year to March 2020 to 1,284 in 2020/21.

Since April this year the rate has risen still further, with 917 cases in the eight months to the end of November.

Dr Boutin said: “Unfortunately, we are still seeing too many cases where patients become violent and aggressive with our clinical or reception staff, which is extremely distressing for them.

"Staff in GP surgeries are working harder than ever to see and speak to as many patients as we can in the face of extremely high levels of demand.

“We want to make sure that you see or speak to the person who can best help you with your concerns and that we prioritise those who have the greatest clinical need.

"We understand that this can be frustrating at times if you have to wait longer than you’d like for an appointment, but aggressive or abusive behaviour makes things even more challenging for us.

"We would really appreciate your patience and understanding."

Extra demand for services, short staffing and frustrations over booking appointments have added to the pressure at surgeries.

And a recent meeting of the Bristol, North Somerset & South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, which funds NHS services in the areais coordinating the anti-abuse campaign, heard there was “significant anger and upset” among doctors in the region over government plans to force GPs to offer more face-to-face appointments.

Chief executive Julia Ross said health chiefs needed to remain focused on “the right thing to do” for residents and not be “buffeted by all the noise”, although she accepted not everyone had fully embraced digital access to surgeries because COVID-19 had forced the changes to happen suddenly.

A CCG spokesperson said: "Whilst the majority of patients and visitors to healthcare settings are respectful and appreciative, there has continued to be a worrying rise in abusive behaviour during the pandemic."

The CCG said violent, aggressive and abusive incidents can have a "lasting impact" on NHS staff and called on patients and relatives to remember "they are people, too".

Picture of Dr Katrina Boutin courtesy of Bristol Design