Plea for Dales patients to be kind to GP receptionists

The Central Dales Practice in Hawes. Photo: Google.

Patients have been urged to stop taking their frustrations out on GP practice staff with the message that “no receptionist should be reduced to tears by a patient’s attitude towards them”.

The plea has come from Jane Ritchie, honourable secretary of the Upper Dales Health Watch, the patient participation group for the Central Dales Practice in Wensleydale.

Ms Ritchie said the number of patients seeking medical help from the Hawes and Aysgarth surgeries had increased dramatically recently.

She added that pre-Covid, the Central Dales Practice saw on average 25 to 40 patients a day at the open access surgeries.

However, on Monday 63 requests for appointments had been made by 9am.

Ms Ritchie said it was the receptionists who were receiving the “brunt of patient unhappiness” at not being able to see a doctor immediately.

“On top of their normal duties these staff have been supporting the Covid vaccination programme – both organising appointments and manning the centre at Tennants.

“They have been asked by their GPs and advanced nurse practitioners (ANP) to help vulnerable patients by identifying those patients who urgently need to speak to a GP/ANP by phone the same day, from those who are not in such urgent need.”

She added: “It is completely understandable that patients may not want to tell a receptionist why they wish to speak to a GP/ANP.

“It is however, very unfair to take frustration out on these hard-working staff.”

Ms Ritchie said GPs and ANPs were still doing home visits for housebound patients, and were looking after end of life, cancer and long covid patients, as well as making referrals whenever necessary.

“The pressure may not be visible to patients, but it is effecting the speed at which patients can have a consultation.

“No receptionist should be reduced to tears by a patient’s attitude towards them.

“Please help greater understanding of the current situation by passing on this information. Our GPs and their staff need our care of them and their wellbeing.”

Ms Ritchie said patients could help by making an online consultation.

“This just entails going on to the practice website — —, clicking ‘patient services’ and then ‘consult on-line’.

“The patient then follows the instructions to explain their symptoms.  A reply will be sent within two days.”

The Central Dales Practice has issued this advice to patients:

  1. If a patient has a cough, a Covid test MUST take place before a GP/ANP appointment. Patients need to phone 119 and take a test (venues may vary, but there will be one in Richmondshire).
  2. If a patient needs to see a physiotherapist rather than a GP/ANP the surgery receptionist will be able to make them an appointment. NHS physiotherapists are based in Catterick and Northallerton.
  3. Patients suffering from hay fever need to visit a pharmacy. GP practices in North Yorkshire DO NOT prescribe Hay Fever medication.
  4. Any problems connected with teeth have to be dealt with by a dentist. GPs are not allowed to prescribe medication for dental issues.





  1. All the holiday cottage owners then. From the big cities pushing the original inhabitants out by their selfish ways. Incomers should have stayed at home instead of taxing the country practises

  2. It’s a shame this verbal abuse of staff is still going on. Dispensary staff also bear the brunt of patients’ frustrations. It’s not our fault there’s a global pandemic which restricts the number of patients allowed in to surgeries and we aren’t responsible for patients’ being unable to order their medication in advance. Our jobs are hard enough at the moment, without inconsiderate patients making it worse.

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