A LEADING York GP has warned that the "tsunami" of people demanding appointments could leave the most vulnerable patients without the care they need.

Dr Brian McGregor is appealing for everyone to play their part in relieving the pressure on an overstretched system – adding that there is no room for the abuse many practice staff are suffering amid huge GP appointment demand.

It comes after The Press reported how many patients were struggling to book appointments or get face-to-face care.

But Dr McGregor, a working GP in a village practice with 4,000 patient and Chair of the British Medical Association Yorkshire Regional Council, said the simple explanation is "there are not enough GPs to go around".

He said: "The biggest and most significant worry for many people in the healthcare profession is that with this increased demand we have, it is almost impossible to allow us to give that greater care to people lost in that huge sea of demand – that tsunami of everyone trying to get access to general practice – and we do not want the situation where vulnerable individuals will deteriorate while we're dealing with things that could have been dealt with in other ways.

"Currently in the media, the biggest gripe and complaint about general practice is about the lack of face-to-face appointments and about the ability to actually contact practices. The simple fact is that demand is higher than capacity at the moment."

As some people experience anxiety and fear prompted by the pandemic, Dr McGregor said there were no excuses for the abuse many practice staff have been experiencing from some members of the public.

He said: "Our reception staff, our care navigators – they're all trained, and they're doing what they've been asked to do by the GPs – so that's why they need to know what the problem is and why they cannot just automatically put people into face-to-face appointments.

"Most of our reception staff are on little more than the Living Wage. They are human, they have families of their own – they are patients themselves. It is not reasonable to be shouted at, to be sworn at, to be denigrated and to be insulted.

"It's vitally important that we realise that in all of our relationships, in all of our interactions, we should be kind, we should be considerate. We should consider the feelings and thoughts of the person at the other end of the phone.

"We're not there to be insulted. We are not there to be shouted at and we're not there to be abused."

While symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea could be treated with self-care and over-the-counter remedies, Dr McGregor urged anyone with symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, blood in your pee or poo, an unexplained lump and severe fatigue without a good reason to get in touch straight away. He said: "If you're concerned, you need to be in touch with us. We want to investigate it, and we want to find out whether or not it could be something sinister."