A CUMBRIAN GP practice has hit out at 'abuse and inappropriate behaviour' from a small number of patients towards staff, after frontline members of staff have been 'brought to tears' in recent weeks.

Workington GP Practice - which includes Beechwood Group Practice, James Street Group Practice, Orchard House Surgery, Oxford Street Surgery and Solway Health Services - has issued a statement after what it says is an 'increase' in abuse towards staff.

In a statement on social media, Workington GP Practice said: "Sadly, we are seeing an increase in abuse and inappropriate behaviour towards our staff from a small minority of patients.

"We have a high level of tolerance and understanding but over recent weeks we have had a number of our frontline team members who have been upset and brought to tears due to the actions of patients who are raising their voice, shouting, swearing, making rude gestures or showing abusive behaviour.

"We have also seen an increase in this behaviour on social media, resulting in us not allowing comments on our posts – our staff see these comments and they are as hurtful and unacceptable as if they were said face-to-face.

"This kind of behaviour could result in a warning and a repeat of that behaviour will result in the possibility of the patient being removed from our practice list. Any threats or physical violence will result in immediate removal from our list and the police will be called."

The practice has said that it can understand 'frustrations' around a new IT system being brought into place, but are 'hugely concerned' about the welfare of team members.

The statement said: "We are hugely concerned about the welfare of our present team members and are afraid we will lose good team members if the levels of abuse and threats towards staff continue. All of our staff do their very best for our patients at all times.

"We have over 33,500 patients in Workington and do try to ensure we help as many as possible when they need us. We know our phone lines are busy as our dedicated reception team can deal with over 1,500 calls on some days.

"We know things are frustrating with the system as a whole and hope that our new way of working from January 10 will improve our patients’ experience. Thank you for your continued support for our team."