Grassroots organisation GP Survival has called on hospital colleagues to stop ‘perpetuating the myth’ that GPs are lazy and practices are closed.
It comes amid escalating abuse from the public and in the media towards GPs and practice teams, prompting the BMA to yesterday demand an urgent meeting with the health secretary to discuss its concerns.
In an open letter addressed to clinical directors and chief executives, GP Survival urged secondary care leaders to ‘actively discourage’ their employees from ‘perpetuating the myth of lazy GPs refusing to see patients’.
The letter said that ‘across all types of social media, you will find numerous examples of secondary care/emergency care/nursing colleagues agreeing with these comments that GPs “aren’t working”’, leading patients to think the attack on GPs ‘is justified and deserved’.
It asked that local secondary care leaders ‘ensure that your employees are made aware that your primary colleagues are all working extremely hard, we are seeing patients face to face after appropriate remote triage and we are now being attacked by the media and by the public’.
The letter added: ‘Please actively discourage your employees from perpetuating the myth of lazy GPs refusing to see patients and support us as your colleagues. Without your support, we fear for the future of general practice, for the future of the nation’s health and for our own safety.’
GP Survival committee member and Liverpool GP Dr Laura Power, who drafted the letter, invited GP colleagues to send it to their local hospital chiefs to ask ‘for their support during this unprecedented and relentless attack on general practice’.
It comes as the British Geriatrics Society (BGS) has expressed ‘solidarity’ with GPs and other primary care workers who are ‘exhausted and burnt out’.
In a statement published last week, president-elect of the BGS and professor of the care of older people Professor Adam Gordon, said: ‘The BGS expresses solidarity towards colleagues in primary care who have managed the vast majority of patients during the pandemic and are exhausted and burnt out.
‘We know that older people comprise a significant proportion of most GPs’ workloads. GPs work incredibly hard to support the health and wellbeing of older people in the community.’
He added: ‘It is vital that the Government addresses workforce shortages across the NHS and social care in the coming months, not just by promising to recruit more GPs but also by supporting new ways of working and better integration between services.
‘Primary care is the first port of call for older people with frailty and complex conditions, and its staff must be supported to deliver high-quality care.’
The BMA this week warned that a Daily Mail campaign for GPs to see patients face to face as the ‘default’ option risks further fuelling abuse and violence against practices.
Responding to the campaign, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested GPs have a right see patients face to face.
And a Pulse survey recently revealed that nearly three-quarters of GPs are experiencing increased levels of patient abuse compared with before the pandemic.
GP leaders last week linked record numbers of GPs seeking mental health counselling to the ‘current vitriol and unfair attack against GPs’ in the media.