Having to access health services can be a distressing and emotional time and people have shown a great deal of patience and understanding as services have adapted to the demands and restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It has arguably been the biggest battle the NHS has ever faced, and staff have stayed away from family members and worked around the clock to ensure local services continue to provide the highest quality of care possible.
However, there is growing evidence that NHS staff are now experiencing increasing incidences of unacceptable abuse while doing their best, in what remain hugely challenging circumstances.
The ‘No Excuse for Abuse’ campaign showcases just some of the abuse staff have been subjected to and asks everyone to think about kindness and respect when accessing local health and care services.
Over the last year, Lincolnshire’s NHS services have seen a noticeable rise in staff being abused in all forms. With changes in restrictions around COVID-19, levels of intimidation and abuse are increasing further and some services have had to implement additional security arrangements to help manage some of the unacceptable behaviours being experienced.
Ceri Lennon, Lincolnshire NHS People Lead said:
“Demand for healthcare services has risen during the pandemic but sadly so have the levels of abuse towards the NHS staff. We understand that patients and relatives can be anxious as we continue to ask them to access care differently due to the ongoing pandemic, but we urge everyone to be patient. Our staff in Lincolnshire are doing an exceptional job and it’s shocking that they are experiencing unacceptable behaviour and verbal or physical abuse.
“Whilst some of the extreme abuse is from a small minority of people, it is important to highlight that staff in all roles and levels, both clinical and front of house, are bearing the brunt of people’s frustrations and anger, at situations often way beyond their control.
“With this campaign we are sending a clear message – abusive behaviour will not be tolerated and there is no excuse for it. Our staff are human too and they get affected by these incidents so we need to clamp down on any such behaviours.
A member of staff who didn’t wish to be named said: “I think sometimes people forget I’m a real person and it can be really upsetting and hurtful being shouted at for something I have no control over. Some of the language used and abuse targeting me as an individual can be really vindictive and all I’m trying to do is help them as best I can.”
Another member of staff said: “All day I have had people being rude to me and non-cooperative. The same happened yesterday and the day before, it’s starting to really get me down.”
Dr Simon Lowe, a Lincolnshire GP based on the east coast said:
“Our staff are under intense pressure, and we simply ask for the public’s support.”
“We have had staff quit their jobs or go on long term sick due to the abuse they are receiving on a daily basis, which impacts on the service we can offer to all our patients.”
“The most common problem we have is patients being rude to staff for not getting the service they think they need, whereas if they listen to our staff who are there to support them they are more likely to get the outcome they want. “
“We will always welcome constructive feedback as it allows us to improve services for our patients; however the abuse of our staff is simply unacceptable, will not be tolerated, and may lead to prosecution. “