COVID: UK health workers under attack from online abusers over vaccination

Health workers in the UK have continued to receive abuse especially from anti-vaxxers over encouraging people to get vaccinated.

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

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No to abuse

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.
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.

Health workers speak up

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.
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