Lives are being put at risk and the care of patients disrupted by a spate of hospital incursions from Covid-19 deniers whose online activity is channelling hatred against NHS staff, say healthcare and police chiefs.
In the latest example of a growing trend, a group of people were ejected by security from a Covid-19 ward last week as one of them filmed staff, claimed that the virus was a hoax and demanded that a seriously ill patient be sent home.
In the footage, a man behind the camera remonstrates with a consultant, who tells him that a patient will die if his oxygen tube is removed. When asked about what treatment is being given, the consultant explains that the patient has coronavirus pneumonia affecting both of lungs and is being treated with steroids and antibiotics.
The man behind the camera says that patient should be brought home and the treatment replaced with vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc, but is told by the consultant: “None of those are proven treatments for coronavirus.”
The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), a union representing frontline medics, said it was unacceptable that staff working themselves into the ground to keep patients safe were having to worry about a new threat from Covid deniers and anti-maskers. It said Twitter and Facebook had a responsibility to ensure those breaking into hospitals to film footage were not given a platform.
“Staff are exhausted and are running on fumes. They should not be having to deal with abuse and even death threats on social media,” said Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, the president of the DAUK.
“Nor should they be worried about turning up for their shift due to crowds of people chanting ‘Covid is a hoax’ outside hospitals full of patients who are sick and dying. This is decimating morale, but worse still, could be obstructing patient care.”
The incident at East Surrey hospital, where police issued fines and warnings and continue to investigate what they described as an “escalation” on social media, comes after the arrests earlier this month of four men allegedly filming inside hospitals in the West Midlands and Worcestershire, and of a woman in Gloucestershire.
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