GP PRACTICES across York and North Yorkshire have launched a campaign urging patients to remember that staff 'are human too' - and to understand why changes have been introduced in the wake of the pandemic.

The #HumansOfGeneralPractice campaign comes as surgeries face up to unprecedented staffing shortages due to high numbers of Covid-related absence.

The campaign, created by GP practices across the region who are part of the BRIDGES Group (Humber, Coast and Vale) - part of NHS Collaborate, a national, supportive community of leaders across Primary Care - urges people to be more understanding, considerate and kind to their GP Practice team.

Prof Mike Holmes, GP partner at Haxby Group, Chair of Nimbuscare and Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) council member, said: "We often forget that they are human too."

He said he knew people had had to adapt and appreciated that change was not easy.

But many practices had had to change overnight to keep services running and protect staff and patients, introducing digital technology, telephone appointments and new roles.

"They have worked incredibly hard, introduced some great innovative changes and continued to care for patients," he said.

However, he said criticism and false claims that GPs hadn’t been working during the pandemic had demoralised staff.

"There’s a lot more that people can do to help themselves and we’re asking them to work with us, understand all these changes and be on our side,” he explained.

Dr Abbie Brooks, of Priory Medical Group in York, said: "We're still working as hard as ever, just differently."

Dr Viv Poskitt, of Harrogate, said: "Things have changed, we're doing things differently now."

Scott Cartwright, of Haxby Group Hull, said: "Online is quicker. People don't realise how much better it is."

The campaign urges people to think before they ring their surgery, get to know how to go online to request appointments or ask a question, download an NHS App to order prescriptions and view records.

They are also urged to understand that they don’t always need to see a doctor and that advanced practitioners, nurses, healthcare assistants and pharmacists are also part of the team,and to take personal responsibility for their own health, where possible.

The campaign says changes include fairer systems using innovative new technology, prioritising patients so the most poorly are seen first, using more telephone consultations and creating more appointments.

"Pharmacists provide healthcare advice and many will also prescribe medication where needed," said a spokesperson.

"Be polite and respectful - abuse of NHS staff is not acceptable.

"Please bear in mind that our teams are doing the best job possible under emended pressure, so please be kind and considerate towards them."