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The Quiet Storm

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‘Enough is enough’: Health workers face online abuse for encouraging vaccination

Written by on 04/08/2021

Health organisations are calling for an end to the abuse aimed at doctors and nurses during the pandemic, especially from anti-vaxxers.

A letter has been signed by groups including the Royal College of Midwives, Unison, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the NHS Confederation, the British Medical Association, and the Royal College of Nursing.

It was prompted by online abuse directed at RCM chief executive Gill Walton after she encouraged pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Some of the tweets compared her and other nurses to serial killer Myra Hindley and the Nazis.

Ms Walton said: “Over the past 16 months, health and care workers have been working under incredible stress, with increased demands and less staff because of the pandemic, yet still they have strived to provide the best possible care.

“I know the vast majority of the public are incredibly grateful for that dedication and commitment.

“However, too many health and care workers have faced abuse from a small but vocal minority, from COVID deniers to anti-vaxxers.

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“Our midwives, doctors, nurses, porters, cleaners, everyone working for the NHS, has the right to safety and respect in the workplace.

“To those who abuse us for simply making polite requests to wear masks or to maintain social distance in hospitals or GP practices, to those who deny the existence of the pandemic or the science of vaccination, to those who issue death threats or incite violence against us, we say enough is enough.”

Other health workers have been abused after trying to boost vaccination uptake among young adults.

President of the Doctors’ Association UK Dr Samantha Batt-Rawdon said she had blocked dozens of abusive accounts, tweeting: “I am really sorry but I’ve had to start blocking people.

“Twitter should be a safe space for doctors to speak up about the importance of vaccination but all we have got back is a wall of abuse.

“Frankly this is the last thing any of us need right now.”

Chief nursing officer for England Ruth May said: “Despite the despicable actions of a minority, the overarching support we have seen from the wider public has helped carry us through the pandemic and we are proud to have helped millions of patients over the last year.”

Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The pandemic is real, and the virus can kill.

“Anti-vaxxers and COVID-deniers are entitled to their opinions, but they must be prevented from hounding dedicated NHS staff, who must be protected so they can do their jobs in peace.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said: “We now need to be more united than ever and show our solidarity by calling out the aggressive and unreasonable behaviour of a small minority.”

 Sky News

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