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Zero Tolerance To Those Who Threaten The Health And Safety Of General Practice Staff

General Practices throughout New Zealand are taking a Zero Tolerance approach to anyone who puts the safety of their staff at risk following increasing levels of verbal and physical abuse.

Doctors, nurses, receptionists, and other professionals working in general practice throughout Aotearoa have been sworn at, threatened and in some cases physically assaulted as they maintain COVID safety precautions.

This abuse has included objects being thrown at staff and buildings being vandalised.

General practice has been key to the COVID-19 response for almost two years, with staff having gone above and beyond to carry out COVID swabbing and vaccinations in addition to their already heavy workload serving the health needs of their communities.

“They are tired, stressed and nearing the end of their ability to cope at a personal level,” says Chair of the General Practice Leaders Forum Dr Fiona Bolden.

“Above all else they deserve respect, not abuse.”

Members of the General Practice Leaders Forum (GPLF), comprising all major organisations representing General Practice, specialist GPs, nurses, and practice managers believe that the health and safety of practice staff remains a priority.

GPLF promotes a Zero Tolerance approach to anyone who puts the safety of those staff at risk or who abuses acceptable standards of behaviour for anyone visiting their workplace.

The health and safety of practice staff is a priority, and general practice have a right to appropriately respond to anyone who knowingly endangers their safety. This may include filing a complaint with the police, trespassing those people from their practice, and removing them from their patient list.

“New Zealanders can expect to be welcomed and treated with respect at their general practice and to receive necessary clinical care, regardless of their vaccination status,” says Dr Bolden.

“General practice staff have earned the same level of respect from their patients.”

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