NHS England has published posters that GPs can print and display to discourage abuse from patients.
In a special GP bulletin sent yesterday, NHS England announced that ‘materials and guidance’ are now available to download for use in primary care settings such as GP practices.
The new toolkit includes posters, social media graphics and display screen graphics that feature real NHS staff working in general practice across England, as well as a poster template for practices to feature photographs of their own teams, it said.
The materials carry the message ‘We are here to help you, thank you for treating us with respect’.
NHS England said the materials aim to ‘encourage patients to treat NHS staff with respect by “social norming” this behaviour’.
It added: ‘We continue to work with patient charities and organisations and police to expand this activity around respect, including guidance on staff-facing messages.
‘Details will be distributed to relevant organisations through regional communications teams as and when they are available.’
NHS England said the materials are ‘part of a package of measures designed to help and support NHS staff’, which includes wellbeing resources on its FutureNHS platform, coaching services, conflict resolution training, ‘staff support and bereavement helplines’ and guidance on reporting violence to the CQC.
It is ‘reviewing the special allocation scheme and Practice Guidance Manual (PGM) with regards to reporting and managing such behaviours in practice’, it added.
Guidance provided as part of the toolkit said that NHS England ‘will not tolerate abuse or violence directed at NHS staff, in whatever setting they work’, adding that it is ‘taking action to protect and support all staff through the NHS Violence Prevention and Reduction Standard’.
The bulletin added: ‘Cases of abuse and violence continue to increase across the NHS and we have heard of similar incidents across primary care sectors.
‘Staff and teams continue to go above and beyond to provide the best care possible and equally deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.
‘You should not be subjected to abuse of any kind.’
It also said that NHS England recognises ‘how demanding’ GP practice roles are ‘particularly because of the pandemic and the added pressures from working in these challenging conditions’ and thanked GP teams for their ‘continuing hard work’.
It comes as the BMA has called for ‘direct assistance to GP practices wishing to undertake security improvements’ in the face of rising patient abuse and violence.
In a report forecasting this year’s winter pressures published last week, it said that this winter will be ‘the worst on record for UK health services’ but that blame should not be directed towards staff.
It added: ‘The present situation is due to system-wide pressures and historic workforce shortages, not individual services or professions, and any attempt to imply otherwise should be firmly rebuked.
‘In particular, the recent spate of negative rhetoric maligning GPs and practice staff – who have provided outstanding levels of care throughout the pandemic while delivering an incredibly successful vaccination programme – must end.’
It said the campaign would be launched alongside a ‘wider toolkit of support to help practices and other primary care providers manage the risk of violence, abuse and microaggressions in primary care and get their staff the support they need’.
NHS England had previously said that it would launch the ‘zero-tolerance campaign on abuse of NHS staff’, as well as working to ‘develop communications tools that can help people to understand how they can access the care they need in general practice’.
Last month, NHS England announced that GPs would have access to a £5m security fund as part of a new campaign to tackle patient abuse.
The move, which came amid soaring levels of confrontational and aggressive behaviour from patients, formed part of Sajid Javid’s package of support for GPs.