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.

Below are extracts from as BBC news item and video:


'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.


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

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), 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: