As part of World Kindness Day (14 November) NHS South Yorkshire is asking patients to please treat all members of staff at their GP practices with kindness and respect.

Since the pandemic there has been a misperception that practices are not seeing many patients which people find frustrating, but practices have always kept their doors open as a service, they have just been operating in a different way with a greater emphasis on remote assessments.

More face-to-face appointments are now available, but many practices have kept video and telephone consultations as they now have the technology to do this. If you are assessed as needing a face-to-face appointment or if you request one you will still have one although you may have to wait a bit longer in some cases. In September 2022 there were over 291.3K GP appointments in Sheffield, 69.2% of appointments were face to face and 26.3% were telephone.

Some people also feel frustrated when they can’t get an appointment as quickly as they would like. Surgeries are working hard to cope with additional demand which includes bringing in more staff in different professional roles to help. Extra funding and support are also being shared across South Yorkshire to make even more appointments available. Urgent appointments are always available, and people will be seen urgently if needed. The reception teams in GP practices are trained care navigators who will ask patients questions to ensure they get to see the most appropriate health care professional, in the most timely manner.

GP practices have also recently launched a new enhanced out of hours service which means patients will be able to see a GP, nurse or other health professional on an evening or weekend at a time which is convenient for them. Patients can book appointments outside normal practice hours between 6.30pm and 8.00pm Monday to Saturday in 11 locations across the city with more patients benefitting from appointments closer to home.

Dr Zak McMurray, GP and NHS South Yorkshire Medical Director for Sheffield said: “There is a lot happening in GP surgeries to improve the service for patients. All we ask of our patients is to please make sure they are kind and respectful to staff at their GP practice.

“We understand that when patients call their practice they are probably feeling unwell and may have to hold on the phone before they can speak to someone but this is because we are dealing with many enquiries and trying to get through them in the best way possible.

“We understand this can be frustrating but please keep in mind that our practice staff are just trying to help people so please treat them with kindness and respect.

“We should also say that negative behaviour only comes from a very small minority of people so we would like to thank all patients throughout Sheffield for their ongoing support.”

One Sheffield practice knows the benefits of being on the receiving end of kind gestures, a city centre practice has recently had a flurry of thank you emails, cards and biscuits. Dominic Carrell, Locality Manager for the practice, said “Receiving kind words from our patients has really boosted the staff at the practice. All GP practice staff just want to provide quality services and help their patients be healthy. Receiving a thank you every now and again really does help everyone keep going through these trying times.”