‘Anti-GP’ media rhetoric risks fuelling climate of abuse, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA.

Location: England
Last reviewed: 20 September 2021

Responding to the campaign launched today by the Daily Mail about face-to-face appointments with GPs in England, the chair of the BMA’s GP committee Dr Richard Vautrey said:

"The Daily Mail’s campaign and other similar ‘anti-GP’ rhetoric in the media risks fuelling a climate of spiralling abuse, leading to more incidents such as the appalling attack on staff at a surgery in Manchester last week. It is damaging to both doctors and their patients and serves no real purpose other than to give backing to the growing trend of abuse, vitriol and violence that is being directed towards our healthcare workers.

"GPs are seeing millions of their patients face-to-face, as well as offering telephone and online appointments, every week. The move to an initial telephone consultation to assess a patient's needs was, and is, in line with NHS England’s and the Government’s guidance and is still necessary for infection control and to keep patients and healthcare staff as safe as possible. No one wants to leave a surgery with an infection they did not attend with. Many patients have really appreciated the benefit of alternative types of consultations, which can then be followed by a face-to-face appointment if needs be; to focus on simplistic percentages completely misses the point and for the media to suggest face-to-face consultations have not been happening or need to ‘begin again’ is clearly wrong. This misinformation is creating a dangerous breeding ground for discontent. Staff being harassed and slandered on social media, being subjected to verbal abuse, intimidation and physical attacks cannot and should not be allowed to happen.

"Sections of media which insist on peddling these dangerous untruths risk inciting even greater levels of violence and abuse towards healthcare staff, when in fact their effort should be directed towards asking the Government why it is standing by and allowing this country to have a GP service that is under-funded and now, under attack."

ENDS

Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.