We are disheartened to see rising levels of abuse being directed towards NHS staff across Kent and Medway.
We know there are frustrations with the on-going pandemic, and those with different views on the vaccine or pandemic restrictions have a right to voice them. But verbal abuse and physical intimidation against NHS staff is totally unacceptable.
Our vaccination teams have seen protestor on the doors of some of their clinics abusing, insulting and intimidating them. Those sending out invitations have received some frankly vile responses. Teams at hospitals, GP surgeries and other sites are also seeing aggressive reaction to being asked to continue wearing masks and socially distancing.
It is totally unacceptable to see verbal abuse, insults and intimidating behaviour being directed at NHS staff going about their crucial role in supporting the Covid-19 vaccination programme and providing other services.
There has been lots of support for our teams in the face of this abuse, for which we are all extremely grateful. The majority can see that the NHS is continuing to do its best in very challenging situations. Unfortunately a minority choose to act in ways that other human beings should not be subjected to.
Teams providing vaccines are delivering a vital service to get us all out of this pandemic and to save lives. We are promoting the importance of the vaccines but we are not forcing anyone to have them. We are trying to get the vaccine to everyone who wants it and provide information for those who are undecided. If we contact people from the small minority who have decided they do not want it, a polite ‘no thank you’ is all that we need and the least our people deserve. There is no need for obscene and abusive comments.
General practice is open but there is very high demand which means it can be difficult for people to get through on the phones. Face to face appointments are available to those who most need them, but people will continue to be offered phone or video consultations. We are working to improve the position but please bear with us and treat staff with respect.
In terms of masks and social distancing in healthcare settings; this remains national policy across the NHS. The virus has not gone away, infection rates are rising, and it is the right thing to do to continue taking precautions to limit the spread of the virus in healthcare settings. We must protect patients who may be more vulnerable and we must protect staff so they can keep delivering the essential care that all of us may need at any time. People need to wear a mask and follow all the other guidance when visiting NHS sites, and do so without objection or abuse towards our staff.
We hope everyone will join us in taking every opportunity to thank our dedicated NHS teams for their on-going efforts in tackling the virus and addressing the delays to other services which it has caused. They do not deserve to be abused in any way.
Wilf Williams, Accountable Officer
Dr Navin Kumta, Clinical Chair