The NHS regional team in the South West of England have written to GPs to acknowledge the intense pressure and criticism facing the profession and express gratitude for the work they have been doing.
A letter from the South West regional medical director also said it was greatly concerned about reports of threatening and abusive behaviour towards GPs and practice teams.
It comes just a week after GPs in Cornwall warned general practice was on the brink of a crisis with primary care overwhelmed by the workload.
The letter, which was co-signed by the clinical chair of NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCGs, was sent amid escalating abuse from the public and in the media towards GPs and practice teams, prompting the BMA to hold an urgent meeting with the health secretary to discuss its concerns.
It states that as the trusted local gateway into the NHS, the work in general practice is ‘relentless’ and they were sorry GPs were receiving ‘additional pressure’.
‘You will know from media coverage and debate that it is easy to criticise GPs and their teams when the entire NHS is under pressure,’ the letter said.
‘As our patients and the public adjust to additional ways of accessing care, it’s understandable, but regretted, that primary care is on the receiving end of some less than charitable sentiments.’
It continues: ‘This short note is to recognise the negative impact of working while such criticism is ongoing, and to thank you for the work you are doing, have done and will be asked to do as winter approaches.’
The letter notes that on top of the day to day business of general practice, GPs and their teams have and are providing Covid and flu vaccinations and ‘we know you do far, far more’ before asking staff to make sure they prioritise their own health and wellbeing.
‘This is a very genuine and heartfelt message of gratitude,’ it said.
‘We are immensely proud of the response from GPs in the South West since the pandemic began, not least because your work encompasses far more than the pandemic, and you have responded unstintingly with both ambition and commitment.’
NHS England said today that GPs are to receive funding to support them to deliver pre-pandemic levels of appointments, including face-to-face-care.
The latest GP appointment data, for August, meanwhile showed that GPs saw five million more patients than the same month last year.