EHS-COVID (175) Impact of pandemic on health workers (5) Abuse of health workers

13 January, 2021

Dear HIFA colleagues,

I was outraged to learn today that exhausted NHS (UK) health workers treating COVID patients are receiving a torrent of abuse from the general public. This abuse is fuelled by false beliefs that COVID is a hoax or a conspiracy. This must be hugely distressing to health workers at a time when they need the most support.

Meanwhile we hear that nearly half of NHS critical care staff are currently suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Didorder, depression or anxiety. https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jan/13/nhs-icu-staff-ptsd-sever...

Below are extracts from as BBC news item and video: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-london-55616041

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'Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, an intensive care registrar, says NHS staff are facing "devastating" abuse online and at protests.

"We've actually had a lot of abuse, particularly on social media, it's mainly around that COVID is a hoax or a conspiracy, so people not believing NHS staff who are trying to speak up about how bad things are on the front line. I'm getting 20-30 abusive messages every day"

Examples include:

"You chose your job. Deal with it"

"You don't give a damn about our lives"

"I'm not responsible for anyone's life except my own"

"I couldn't care less who I apparently murder by not wearing a mask"

In response Dr Batt-Rawden, who is president of the Doctors' Association UK, started her own campaign for people to post blue hearts on social media to show their support for health workers.

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I am liaising with our HIFA social media team to add a blue heart to HIFA social media pages in solidarity: not only for the NHS (UK) but for health workers worldwide.

Are health workers in other countries receiving similar abuse?

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA project on COVID-19, supported by University of Edinburgh

https://www.hifa.org/projects/covid-19

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org