GP surgery defends itself and staff after claim that voicemail message was threatening

A GP surgery has defended itself after a patient accused its voicemail greeting of being “patronising” and “triggering”. Dozens of patients came out to support Old Bridge Surgery, in Looe, after the hurtful claims.

The woman accused the recorded message of being triggering, passive aggressive, patronising and threatening. The surgery has explained that it is a standard one used by many GP surgeries to help reinforce its zero-tolerance approach to any form of verbal or physical abuse towards staff.

It said that instances of abuse towards clinicians, while rare, are rising and it is prepared to take action when they occur. In addition, the surgery explained that it receives numerous cards, letters and emails of gratitude from the vast majority of patients.

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The voicemail message refers to a zero-tolerance policy before going onto mention a breakdown in doctor-patient relationships. At no point does become threatening or aggressive.

Tracey Stammers, business strategic manager at Old Bridge Surgery, Looe, said: “We deliver high quality care to meet the clinical needs of our patients. We are independently rated as ‘Good’ overall by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), who noted in their latest inspection report that our ‘staff treated patients with kindness, respect and compassion.

“Respect is a two-way process between our GP surgery and patients. As a responsible employer, like other GP surgeries locally and nationally, we have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of verbal or physical abuse of our clinicians or staff. The message on our answerphone is a standard one used by many GP surgeries to help reinforce this.

“We are pleased to have positive relationships with the vast majority of our patients. Most patients appreciate that we are working as hard, safely and fast as we can to meet their clinical needs, despite the workforce and workload challenges facing general practice. Instances of abuse to our clinicians and staff are rare, but rising. We are prepared to take action when they occur.”

One person said: “I have had excellent service from all at Looe and Pelynt Surgery. These current health care problems throughout the country are not of their making. Just learn a bit of patience.”

Another added: “I’ve just called them. It basically says if you’re abusive to them then, due to being a breakdown in patient doctor relationships, you may have to find another doctor. Quite right, I say. Clearly shows they [are] having to deal with abuse for this message to have to be put out there.”

A third said: “It is a long message but then there are a lot of items to get through. We must have a bit of patience. We have a very good surgery and they do well for us. So less of the moaning, please.”

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