Health workers have made the vaccination programme a success. But as they encourage everyone to have their jabs, some have suffered appalling abuse.
The country’s leading health organisations, who between them represent hundreds of thousands of NHS staff, have come together to stand against the abuse to which they have been subjected during the pandemic.
The group, which includes the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), UNISON, and the NHS Confederation, has also urged the public to stand with them.
The last few days have seen an incredible outpouring of support for the RCM and its chief executive Gill Walton, shown by the list of signatories in a letter in today’s Times.
This followed abuse and death threats on social media as she worked to encourage pregnant women to have the Covid vaccine.
The RCM said that the volume of support for her has been remarkable with politicians including Sajid Javid, other health organisations and the public stepping forward to shout down those that hurl abuse from the shadows of social media.
RCM chief executive Gill 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.
‘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 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.’
The RCM’s rallying cry of #IStandWithGill has shone a spotlight on the abuse health and care staff experience every day.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘The overwhelming majority of people value and appreciate everything NHS staff have done throughout the pandemic.
‘It’s health workers that have made the vaccination programme such a success. But as they encourage everyone to have their jabs, some have suffered appalling abuse. This must stop.
‘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 should be protected so they can do their jobs in peace.’
Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: ‘For the last 18 months everyone in healthcare has shown what incredible things can be achieved if we pull together.
‘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.’
Photo Credit – Claudia Wolff