‘Taking a battering’: medical centre boss reveals public’s treatment of exhausted staff

Jo Calderon, operational lead at Beccles Medical Centre, has pleaded for "patience and understanding

Jo Calderon, operational lead at Beccles Medical Centre, has pleaded for "patience and understanding" from the community ahead of the coronavirus vaccine roll out. Picture: Nick Butcher/Jo Calderon - Credit: Nick Butcher

A medical centre boss has urged members of the community to “walk a moment in their shoes” after staff were abused and criticised for following safety guidelines.

Beccles Medical Centre. Picture: Nick Butcher.

Beccles Medical Centre. Picture: Nick Butcher. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Jo Calderon, operational lead at Beccles Medical Centre, has asked for the community’s support in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hailing the efforts of staff in providing care to thousands of patients each month, Ms Calderon said the centre’s team had been under significant pressure throughout the pandemic.

Ms Calderon said: “The news this past week of a vaccine has thrown light and hope on a situation that was more than daunting, and the push to encourage GP practices to take up delivering this vaccine is significant.

“GP practices have spent the best part of the last year under an immense amount of strain from work demands; staff shortages due to isolation and becoming unwell with Covid-19 themselves; and providing medical support for services that have closed, yet Beccles Medical Centre, and other practices in the area, are already working incredibly hard on how they need to rise to the new challenge to ensure everyone in our community is safe.

Jo Calderon, operational lead at Beccles Medical Centre. PHOTO: Jo Calderon

Jo Calderon, operational lead at Beccles Medical Centre. PHOTO: Jo Calderon - Credit: Archant

“However, we need help. We need to see the tidal wave of support from earlier this year.

“Our staff are under the largest pressure I have ever seen in my career and they need the understanding and patience of the community.”

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Last month, the centre’s care navigators took 5,000 phone calls, while patients submitted 6,000 forms for clinical advice.

Clinicians provided more than 1,500 face-to-face appointments and made over 4,000 telephone consultations.

Ms Calderon said: “Added to that, we need to prepare for the biggest vaccine roll out we have seen in over 50 years, so please help us to help you.

“If you do not receive a call as quickly as expected, please understand staff are endeavouring to get through every request as quickly as possible and, like hospitals, emergencies aise and we have to triage appropriately.

“The news of the vaccine is incredibly encouraging.

“However, we still need to work through the demands of the next six months and would like to ask the public to understand the pressure that we are under.”

The practice, which supports over 20,000 patients, has introduced a number of safety guidelines to keep staff and patients safe, including staff working in isolation with masks on all day.

Ms Calderon said: “I have had staff abused and received complaints over them simply trying to follow the guidelines so that they can keep everyone safe.

“This is exhausting for them and the battering that they are getting in some areas has led to impacts on their mental health, at a time when we need their resilience even more.

“Our staff will continue to give and give willingly. However, their resilience is low and I ask, therefore, those in the community and nationwide to start thinking about how this has impacted everybody.

“All keyworker services are doing their very best to get you what you need, yet sometimes that doesn’t happen due to circumstances that are normally our of our control.

“Please try and walk a moment in their shoes and appreciate what they are currently managing.”

Anyone visiting the practice must wear PPE, with patients warned a positive case within the surgery could result in their temporary closure.

Ms Calderon said: “We are happy to provide patients with a mask should they require one.

“However, not wearing a mask is a breach of PPE and, in the event of a case within the surgery, could potentially result in our closure.

“We do not want this to happen. We want to be able to continue to provide clinical support over these coming months.

“If you have a hidden disability which makes wearing a mask difficult, please advise the team and they will support you where possible, offer you alternative ways for your appointment, and look at other ways we can support you.”

The centre have also issued a rallying call for volunteer stewards or anyone with a clinical background to support with the vaccine roll out.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the surgery on 01502 712662.

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