Senior doctors and nurses have condemned abuse directed at healthcare workers after the head of the Royal College of Midwives received death threats for encouraging pregnant women to have the Covid vaccine.
Health organisations that represent hundreds of thousands of NHS staff are speaking out against a “sinister tide” of abuse and aggression they say has grown in the past few months.
In a letter published in The Times today, the group, which includes the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the NHS Confederation, the Royal College of Midwives and Unison, hit back at a “small, aggressive minority”.
“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 write.
This week Gill Walton, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, was subjected to death threats and abusive messages likening her to the child killer Myra Hindley. She had made a public call for pregnant women to come forward for vaccination.
Ruth May, the NHS chief nursing officer for England, said the abuse was unacceptable while Dr Ellen Welch, of the Doctors’ Association UK, said it had become endemic.
She added: “As a GP, the false stories about primary care being closed all year have become fact for many, and I start a shift almost expecting a confrontation. Staff have been physically and verbally assaulted and one surgery was even subject to an arson attack. This needs to stop.”