East Riding Council’s Public Health Director Andy Kingdom said patients facing longer waits for appointments should not “blame” GPs and practice staff.
Mr Kingdom added practices’ involvement in the vaccination and pandemic backlogs had left staff so pressured that many were considering or had left the profession for jobs elsewhere.
It comes as health professionals told the Press Association they were now facing “daily and relentless” abuse from patients frustrated over getting appointments or being offered remote ones.
It also followed the recent launch of an NHS campaign in East Yorkshire highlighting “soul destroying” abuse which staff claim has gotten worse.
Mr Kingdom said such abuse was “unfair” given what GPs and their staff had been through and had done during the pandemic.Read more: My daughter’s virus death; why I blame Boris Johnson – Yorkshire Post Letters---
Mr Kingdom said: “There’s a lot of pressure on primary care at the moment and I think we need to have an adult conversion about what people’s expectations should be of GPs at the moment.
“We shouldn’t blame those on the frontline for how the war’s going. It’s easy to forget that GP practices have been really busy vaccinating people. Around 270,000 vaccine doses have been administered in the East Riding, GPs were a really big part of that.
“But that means there’s an opportunity cost because staff can only focus on doing one thing or the other. Practices have had difficult choices to make and the system can’t see everyone straight away. I think people have been unfair towards GPs and practice staff, we shouldn’t underestimate them.
“They’re normally the best placed to deal with patients because people know and trust their GP. They and other health staff have given everything during the pandemic, it would be very unfair to suggest that they hadn’t.
“We’ve had 800 die in the East Riding during the pandemic and around 40,000 people have been infected, GPs and their staff want coronavirus to go away as much as anyone else does.
“Don’t underestimate what they’ve been through, we can see the toll of that with rising numbers of staff resigning or taking an early retirement. Those on the frontline are just trying to do the right thing, ultimately we’ll need to consider how much we should be investing in primary care.
“We also need to think about how the NHS is going to get through the winter.
“We should remember when we used to clap and bang pots and pans for health workers rather than letting ourselves be pulled apart, we’re still in this together.”