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GP practice forced to close due to receptionist shortage and abuse

GP practice forced to close due to receptionist shortage and abuse

A GP practice has been closed for more than two months due to staff shortages partly caused by abuse to its receptionists.

The Haxby Group, which run 13 GP surgeries across York, Scarborough and Hull, serving more than 92,000 patients, was forced to shut its practice in Stockton on the Forest, as it could ‘no longer provide a safe service’ due to difficulties in recruiting reception staff.

GPs at the practice said they are struggling to recruit practice staff partly due to ‘verbally abuse’, adding that the closure could become permanent unless they can find more staff.

A spokesperson from group said: ‘As you will be aware, GP practices across the country are under extreme pressure. Like many, we are struggling to recruit support staff, especially to work on the reception desks.

‘Despite our greatest efforts, we can no longer provide a safe service at our Stockton on the Forest Surgery in York, due to reception staff shortages.

‘Our Stockton on the Forest surgery will therefore be temporarily closed. We must emphasise that this is a temporary measure, and we aim to return to full opening hours as soon as we have recruited and trained new staff members.’

Two other surgeries within the group also had to cut opening hours due to staff shortages.

Prof Mike Holmes, GP and partner at Haxby Group, has previously said there was ‘a real possibility’ the surgery in Stockton on the Forest could close permanently.

He told a council meeting in December that after the pandemic the profession ‘simply cannot recruit.’

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According to local paper The Press, Dr Holmes also said GP support staff are frequently ‘verbally abused’ and are being ‘tempted away to other jobs’ with better pay and conditions, such as supermarkets.

At the beginning of this month, villagers held a protest outside the surgery as they fear the closure, which began on 10 November last year, could become permanent.

More than 20 people gathered to protest, as campaigners have also started an online petition to reopen the surgery.

Tony Fisher, a Lib Dem councillor who represents the village on York City Council, said: ‘Local residents were appalled when Stockton’s surgery closed in November.

 ‘This is extremely unsatisfactory, it means that patients from Stockton will have to travel to either Haxby or Huntington.’

A spokesperson from the BMA said: ‘The most valuable resource the health service has is its staff. Yet the NHS is in the midst of a chronic workforce crisis, driven by years of insufficient investment in training new staff, inadequate workforce planning, and lack of government accountability.

‘The result is a vicious cycle of mounting pressures, declining staff wellbeing and poor retention.’

Meanwhile, GPs in Glasgow have warned that ‘misleading’ reports in English media are fuelling abuse to their staff.

The LMC sent a letter to the city’s MSPs, warning them GPs are experiencing worrying levels of abuse.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Decorum Est 17 January, 2023 10:34 pm

‘the practice said they are struggling to recruit practice staff partly due to ‘verbally abuse’

‘support staff are frequently ‘verbally abused’ and are being ‘tempted away to other jobs’ with better pay and conditions, such as supermarkets’

So potential employees decide to do honest work where they are treated with respect and paid a decent wage.

Ian Jacobs 18 January, 2023 8:24 am

What about employing a security guard ( in uniform ) in reception. ?
Almost certainly would not need to be a long term appointment.
Install high quality CCTV cameras in reception to identify those who are abusive /overly aggressive and take appropriate action once identified. Also instal panic buttons and a very clear surgery policy as to what to expect when you press one or call for help.
Possibly have a policy of never having only one receptionist at the front desk.

Hopefully those measures will help to make reception staff feel safer and improve morale and staff retention/ recruitment.
It will ensure that the message that the surgery takes these issues very seriously and is acting appropriately in the circumstances.

David Church 18 January, 2023 10:05 am

Reception staff used to be very highly skilled and experienced, and thus very valuable. I would not equate the skill level with working in a supermarket at all. However, the pay rewards per input effort are probably much more attractive.
And supermarkets oftem do have visible uniformed security guards; or even just visible obvious security guard even though not in uniform!
However, things might be different if they had empty shelves…….

Tom Jones 18 January, 2023 5:20 pm

Is it bad that i’m jealous the partners get to relax for a few months whilst still getting paid…if that happened to my practice..i’m ashamed to say i would be relieved and would enjoy the time off!

Anonymous 18 January, 2023 7:14 pm

Failed leadership that’s what it is.
Get a few apprentices, train them up, one or two will want a permanent contract. Retain current staff with staff benefits, incentives or bonuses.
Speak to staff to understand what they are worried about, help them. That way they will not leave you to work in Aldi.

Mr Brown 18 January, 2023 8:23 pm

I have loads of questions here.

Is this not breach of contract territory? Would a smaller practice just get shut down? Is receptionist remuneration not enough?

Ian Jacobs 19 January, 2023 10:42 am

@ Tom Jones . No such luck for the partners at this surgery. They are part of the Haxby Group so there are a number of other fairly local practices that they will be helping out at. There are 2 practices that the patients from Stockton on the Forest will be re-directed to and those 2 practices will need extra help to cope with the new ( even higher ) demand pressures.

Christopher Ives 19 January, 2023 2:02 pm

It is a very small branch surgery in a sleepy village. Not a stand alone GP practice. I oddly know a few residents who were interested in being reception staff. They have full centralised appointment triage via klinik so GPs can triage from anywhere in Haxby Group. Essentially is just a building that is either manned or not manned. It’s odd the reception staff couldn’t be sourced from one of the other many sites including nimbus federation sites.

Ian Jacobs 24 January, 2023 9:57 am

@Christopher Ives. That paints a completely different picture to the impression the article conveyed. Thanks for your comment- it shows the article in a poor light. More like what you might expect from the Daily Mail.