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GP and primary school workers consider quitting due to ‘shameful’ hardships facing service users

WORKERS at primary schools and GP surgeries have considered quitting their jobs because of a “shameful” level of hardship among service users, a study revealed today.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) study found that Britain’s primary schools and primary healthcare facilities were “staggering under the weight of hardship,” with resources being redirected to provide extra support to the nearly four million people struggling to pay for essentials like food, heating and appropriate clothing.

Sixty per cent of respondents told researchers that hardship had made it more difficult to do their jobs well, and about 40 per cent said hardship was a factor in them thinking about leaving their jobs.

JRF Scotland associate director Chris Birt said: “Hardship has reached a shameful level in the UK, with almost four million people finding themselves in destitution in a single year.

“As the parties compete to lead the UK government after July 4, we need them to get serious about tackling the scale and depth of hardship which is afflicting millions and holding families back from building better lives.

“No plan for our schools or NHS should be taken seriously if it doesn’t include tackling hardship.”

Researchers found that an estimated 48 per cent of primary school pupils have experienced hardship so far this year, resulting in pupils coming to school tired, hungry or upset, and teachers having to take time out of lessons to support them or having to buy them food out of their own pockets.

One teacher in west central Scotland told them: “If children aren’t ready to learn — they’ve not had their breakfast, they’re hungry, or they’ve had a really troubling night … then you can see a huge shift in terms of focus and readiness … you tend to find those are the children that cry most and their behaviour is their way of saying they need help.”

There was a similar situation reported in primary and community healthcare settings, such as GP surgeries, where an estimated 57 per cent of patients had experienced hardship over the past year, and where almost half of respondents said their workplace offered a foodbank.

Researchers also found that hardship causes and exacerbates ill health, leading to more complex conditions and more frequent, longer appointments.

One GP in west central Scotland told researchers: “One patient with a cardiac problem has missed over a dozen appointments and says it’s because he can’t afford the transport — it’s a two-bus journey each way.

“This means multiple appointments with me going round in circles as we haven’t had the investigations to make a diagnosis. This then wastes multiple NHS appointments which is frustrating.”

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