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Verbal abuse of staff 'disgraceful', says Caithness health campaigner

By Gordon Calder

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THE verbal abuse suffered by staff at a Thurso medical practice is “absolutely disgraceful”, said a local health campaigner.

Bill Fernie, the chairman of the Caithness Health Action Team, hit out after staff at the Riverbank Practice in Janet Street were subject to abuse by some patients.

Bill Fernie hit out at the verbal abuse of staff at a Thurso medical practice
Bill Fernie hit out at the verbal abuse of staff at a Thurso medical practice

Mr Fernie acknowledged people are under “a lot of stress” after 18 months of the coronavirus but said such behaviour is “unacceptable”.

“It seems to have got worse and appears to be happening not just in medical premises but in other places where staff come into contact with the public,” he said.

“Staff are doing their best to do their job and help people and should not be subject to verbal or any other abuse.

“It is absolutely disgraceful.”

The problem came to light after the practice posted what was happening on social media.

The message said: “We know times are stressful but, unfortunately, this week our Clinical Support Team have been subjected to aggressive verbal abuse and rude behaviour from patients in the practice and they find it very upsetting.”

The message added: “Riverbank Practice and NHS Highland have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy against any kind of abuse or aggressive behaviour towards their staff and anyone violating this policy will receive a warning letter from the practice.

“Any repeat abuse towards any of our staff may lead to a patient being removed from the practice list.”

Pam Dudek, NHS Highland chief executive, said there is "no excuse for such behaviour" and stressed the health authority has a zero-tolerance approach to verbal and physical of staff.

The Riverview Medical Practice in Wick experienced similar problems last year.

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