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Moreen Simpson: More face time with GPs could take the heat off NHS support staff

NHS staff say they have grown used to abuse from frustrated patients (Photo: insta_photos/Shutterstock)

We, the great British public, are a fickle lot.

A few months ago, we’re on our doorsteps giving mass applause to the health workers fighting Covid. Today our GPs are under fire for the continuing reluctance of many to hold face-to-face consultations. This can be particularly distressing for older patients who are not up to the technology being asked of them now.

A neighbour, aged 78, worried about a mole on her leg which seemed to be getting bigger, was asked to email a photo to her surgery. A widow with no close relatives nearby, she’d to ask a neighbour to do it for her.

Now, take my experience. Fell badly in August, nicely shredding both knees, but particularly badly my right shin – almost ankle to knee, good job, Mo – because the skin is particularly thin there. Tried to patch it up masellie for about a week with my always-on-hand (because I have hiterin’ history) huge store of plasters and antiseptic potions.

Then my son-in-law (a workplace first-aider and my first-stop health advisor) took a look and didnae like it. And I didnae like his look either. Kint there was somethin’ nae fine.

NHS staff were there for the public during the worst of the Covid pandemic (Photo: Peter Byrne/PA)

Next morning, phoned surgery and was instructed to take a picture. For a start, I’m not a great mobile phone snapper. Fit a palaver I had attempting to capture the myriad delights of my bloody shin.

Leg up on chair. Click. Perfect pic of leg of chair. Reposition. Click. Pic of knee, where only minor damage. Shoogle aboot phone a bit. Click. Sh… ave a bandy. Sidie-wise instead of length. Mere fraction of damage on view.

Finally, got the whole, gory mess. Went to email surgery, receptionist having already warned the address was “pretty long”. As in, couldnabemorecomplicatedtosendtoyerNHSdoc.com. After all that effort, I got one of those sodding mail failed messages.

Final resort, contacted my quine. Sent pic to her, who successfully emailed it to the surgery. I need a lie doon!

Nurses and support staff have grown used to abuse

Hallelujay. About an hour later, a call telling me to come to see the nurse the next morning. That was the middle of August. Twice a week since then I’ve been having the leg dressed, often tended by two wonderful Florence Nightingales, one learning about wounds.

Twice a week, I’d bowl up at the front door, ring the bell, wait for a receptionist and trot out the answers to her string of questions about my health. Once a guy ahead of me lost the heid when he said he’d woken up with a cough and she had to tell him to go home and make another appointment. “You mean you want me to go home to die?” He blasted at her.

Examples of abuse directed at NHS Grampian staff (Image: NHS Grampian)

When he left, I sympathised with her; she shrugged stoically: “We’re used to it now.”

These receptionists and nurses have been meeting me upfront and personal twice a week for three months, as they have been hundreds of other patients. In all that time, I’ve never clapped eyes on a doctor, not even passing through the waiting room.

Is it perhaps time those GPs who haven’t already should restart regular face-to-face consultations? If practice nurses are doing it, why can’t they?


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