Health chiefs issue 'be kind' plea amid mounting pressure on NHS services

Health leaders in the region are warning that NHS staff are facing increasing incidents of abuse from the public as the healthcare system braces itself for the very busy winter period.

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 5:03 pm
Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, Cramlington

Last year Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust reported a 36% increase in the total number of incidents faced by staff, with verbal abuse more than doubling.

And the North East Ambulance Service recently highlighted a rise in attacks on its staff.

Hospitals, GPs and paramedics across the North East and North Cumbria are also managing another surge of pressure on vital services with many of the region’s hospitals seeing record daily numbers for A&E attendance, a huge increase in paediatric cases and ongoing Covid19 patients requiring care.

As well as this NHS teams – across hospitals and GP practices – still face challenges such as reduced space in clinical treatment areas and surgeries because of the need to follow strict infection control measures to ensure patients and staff continue to be safe.

Speaking on behalf of the NHS in the region, Dr Neil Halford, interim medical director for the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System, said: “While we appreciate that some people may be frustrated there is no excuse for abusing our staff and this should not and will not be tolerated.

“Every part of the healthcare system is currently under huge pressure so please be patient and think carefully about the right NHS service for your needs. We’re seeing increasing numbers of people right across the system and our staff are doing their very best to make sure everyone can get the care they require as quickly as possible.

“We’re asking people to please only use services such as A&E or 999 for serious or life-threatening issues and use other options for less pressing healthcare needs.”

GPs across the region are also seeing huge pressures. Reception staff are trained to help prioritise patients to ensure those most in need are seen most urgently, and are a valued part of the GP team, but as the first point of contact are increasingly subjected to abuse.

Primary care is also working on the rollout of the covid booster programme and the flu programme, both vital in keeping people protected this winter.

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