Karen Higgins, Director of Primary Care, said: “We are seeing an increase in the number of incidents of verbal aggression towards our staff across our primary care services, both over the telephone and face-to-face.
“We acknowledge that all GP surgeries are still under pressure and we understand at times patients may become frustrated but please be respectful to our staff, who are doing their very best to help you in often difficult circumstances.
“The NHS has a zero-tolerance approach to abuse and violence against its staff and if a person is violent, abusive or threatening to any staff member, they may be permanently removed from the surgery and this also includes comments, remarks and threats posted on social media. In serious circumstances the police will be contacted.
“There are many different healthcare professionals working within our GP surgeries who are highly capable of providing appropriate support, and we encourage patients who are offered these appointments to please attend them.
“We have trained our receptionists in care navigation, to effectively signpost patients appropriately to on the day services such as urgent primary care, community pharmacies and minor injury units. This gives staff more time to support patients who present with more complex, longer-term presentations and reduce pressures on hospital services.
“Our staff are here to help you and if you consider that you have been treated unfairly or inappropriately, we will be happy to address your concerns.
"We acknowledge that this message does not apply to the majority of people using our services and for everyone who shows kindness and patience to our staff, it is greatly appreciated, thank you."