Senior doctors have warned that abuse towards healthcare workers has increased since Covid restrictions were lifted in England last month and DAUK GP Dr Ellen Welch said the abuse had become endemic.
NHS staff have released a video detailing the abuse they have received from patients including racist slurs, legal threats, and false claims about Covid vaccines.
The 90-second clip by NHS Lanarkshire posted on social media revealed how public attitudes have soured towards healthcare workers since the Clap for Carers movement in March last year.
Andrea McIlroy, part of the health board’s coronavirus vaccination team, recounted an incident in which somebody said: “F*** yourself, it’s your fault if I die because of this vaccine… I’ll take your name and I’m going to get my family to sue you whenever I die after this vaccine.”
Sandra Clark, another member in the NHS Lanarkshire vaccination team, described how one patient told her: “I don’t even believe Covid exists – are you going to inject me with a blood clot just now?”
Sharon Ghani, of Burnbrae Medical Practice in Shotts, says she received racist abuse because of her surname, while another patient told her: “You should be ashamed to call yourself a nurse, youse just don’t give a f*** – it’s the nurses running the asylum in there.”
Senior doctors in the Scottish health service said the video highlighted the “harsh reality” that many NHS workers face.
In a joint statement, Heather Knox, chief executive of NHS Lanarkshire; Ross McGuffie, chief officer of Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire; and Marianne Hayward, interim chief officer of South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said abuse towards NHS staff “will never be tolerated”.
“Sadly, we know this offers a harrowing snapshot of the harsh reality our health and social staff are experiencing on a wider basis due to the behaviour of a minority of people,” they said.
“We have a clear message to those who would display any form of violent or aggressive behaviour, be it verbal or physical, towards our staff: It never has been tolerated and it will certainly not be tolerated now.
“We are continually working in partnership with local police in the management of aggressive and violent individuals and we will continue to do so.”
They also praised the staff who participated in the video for their bravery, adding: “It’s very evident that each and every one of these incidents have been very distressing for all those involved.”
It comes after the head of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) became the target of death threats earlier this week after she encouraged pregnant women to get the Covid vaccine.
Gill Walton, chief executive of the RCM, also received abusive messages likening her to the child killer Myra Hindley.
Senior doctors rallied to defend Ms Walton, with leaders from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the NHS Confederation, the RCM and Unison hitting back at the “small, aggressive minority”.
In an open letter published in The Times, the group said: “As health and care professionals, we have been moved by the support given to us by the public throughout the pandemic.
“However, a small but sinister tide has been rising of people who, at best, seek to undermine the important public health advice we give, and, at worst, incite abuse and violence against us.”
They called on the public to stand with frontline health workers, adding that NHS staff “will no longer tolerate… unacceptable behaviour”.
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said abuse towards healthcare workers has increased since restrictions were lifted.