Patients show support for GPs through #ThanksToMyGP social media campaign

More than a thousand messages of support for general practice were shared within hours on social media after the launch of a campaign to fight back against damaging criticism of the profession in the media and by politicians.

(Photo: Barry Lewis/InPictures/Getty Images)

The ‘#ThanksToMyGP’ campaign - set up by the grassroots campaign group NHS Million - invites people to say why they value their family doctor and has triggered an outpouring of positive stories about the impact of general practice.

Over 1,000 tweets with the campaign’s hashtag were sent in the first hour of the group’s initial tweet, which has had over 1m views in the last week. Those behind the initiative have highlighted the need to tackle 'head on' recent misinformation about GPs.

The campaign came as the BMA announced it will poll GP members on whether they are prepared to quit the NHS, reduce working hours or take other action as the association demands more government support amid rising abuse.

General practice heroes

Attacks against GPs in parts of the media have been relentless in recent weeks, with the profession criticised over access to face-to-face appointments. Criticism of the profession has come despite more than half of all appointments during the pandemic being delivered in person even as the profession followed NHS advice to shift to total triage  - and despite 58% of all appointments being in person in August.

Thousands of people tweeted about positive encounters with GPs as one person shared that their family doctor had probably saved their life by recognising symptoms of diabetes. Another person thanked their GP for treating sick members of their family - and another recognised the benefits of a blended approach to consultations.

Director of NHS Million and intensive care doctor Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden said the campaign was designed to show GPs that they are appreciated by their colleagues and patients. She said: ‘We are devastated to hear of the abuse that primary care staff are facing, almost certainly as a consequence of negative headlines in the media.

‘Stories of where GPs have gone above and beyond have now flooded social media thanks to the hashtag, and we hope this has gone some way to combating the negative narrative around general practice at the moment.

‘We know GPs are under immense pressure, and many are leaving the profession not only due to burnout, but as a direct consequence of ‘GP bashing’ in the media. It is therefore crucial that we address misinformation head on and show how much GPs are needed.’

Earlier this month the BMA requested an emergency summit with the government to discuss ‘unacceptable levels of abuse’ faced by GPs and their staff amid ‘sustained anti-GP campaigns’ in the media. It has previously asked the health secretary to provide 'clear public backing' for the profession

Family doctors recently told GPonline how misinformation is affecting morale among primary care staff, leaving staff fearing for their safety when turning up to work and driving some to quit.

Meanwhile, the BMA has warned that a further wave of abuse could result from the government 'singling out' GPs under pay transparency rules that took effect from this month.

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