Dr Atul Aggarwal: 'Be kind and do not abuse NHS staff'

A woman uses a landline phone in an Office, in central London.

The pandemic has changed the way GPs work with more consultations being done over the phone - Credit: PA

The pandemic has dramatically changed the way that I and my GP colleagues have had to work.

We’ve stayed open throughout lockdowns and we’ve been here to provide care for the local community, adapting to new ways of working that kept everyone safe from Covid.

This has meant that we’ve been asking you to wear masks in our surgeries; assessing you over the phone and asking you to fill out online consultation forms so that we can provide the best and most appropriate care for your needs.

I am still seeing patients in person every day, but I’m also doing more phone consultations – something that my patients have welcomed as it’s meant that they can avoid travelling to the practice or taking time off work.

The pandemic is not over by any means and across north east London there are still thousands of people getting Covid-19, with hundreds in intensive care in our hospitals, so we all have a part to play.

Dr Atul Aggarwal

Dr Atul Aggarwal has been working throughout the pandemic - Credit: Mark Sepple/NHS NEL

With the end of lockdowns, we have seen a huge surge in built-up demand and here in north east London, we are managing thousands more requests for care each week, with some of our GP surgeries reporting a 50 per cent increase in requests for consultations.

There are no more GPs to manage this increase, and alongside increased demand, we are supporting a vaccination programme offering protection to tens of thousands of people every week.

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This increase in workload, and some of the changes to our ways of working, have led to some frustration among patients and I’m sad to say we have seen a rise in the physical and verbal abuse of our staff.

Abuse of our staff is never acceptable. We are clear that violence, or the causing of nuisance or disturbance on NHS premises, may result in prosecution or people being refused access to care.

We are committed to seeing everyone who needs to be seen in the best way for them, so please be kind to yourselves, others who have been badly affected by Covid, and your NHS and social care services.

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