Academy of Medical Royal Colleges – Abuse of health and care staff – Joint Statement
Date: 19 Oct 2021
Type: FSRH Press Releases and Statements
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC), the coordinating body for the UK and Ireland’s 24 medical royal colleges and faculties, of which FSRH is a member, have issued a joint statement on the growing abuse health and care staff have been increasingly subjected to over the last few months.
The unprecedented levels of abuse have been apparent right across health and care, to GPs and their teams, ambulance staff, receptionists, call handlers, staff working in urgent and emergency care, vaccinators, midwives, social care staff and nurses.
The pandemic has been a very difficult time for everyone. However, any forms of abuse against health and care staff are unacceptable.
You can read the full statement below.
Abuse of health and care staff – Joint Statement
Health and care staff have been subject to a growing tide of abuse from sections of the public and patients over the last few months.
There have been particularly visible and distressing incidents directed at primary care staff in recent weeks. However this phenomenon is happening right across health and care. As well as GPs and their teams, ambulance staff, receptionists, call handlers, staff working in urgent and emergency care, vaccinators, midwives, social care staff and nurses and others all report an unprecedented rise in abuse directed towards them.
In addition we know that violence against NHS staff has, sadly, been part of the healthcare landscape for too long.
As organisations representing staff and employers we are absolutely clear that verbal or physical abuse of health and care staff is completely unacceptable in any setting including on social media.
We understand that patients become frustrated at long waits, delays in their care or other problems in the delivery of the services they rightly expect.
However, blaming individual members of staff, whether clinical or administrative, for systemic problems caused by huge increases in demand coupled with a lack of resources and workforce capacity is completely inappropriate. It leads to demoralisation, burnout and illness for the individuals and further worsens pressure on services more widely.
The health and care system were under strain long before COVID. But the pandemic multiplied those pressures, putting unprecedented strain on services. And that challenge is going to continue for some long time to come as waiting lists and restricted access to services will get worse before they get any better.
Government and the media both have a responsibility to be honest and transparent with the public about the pressures facing health and care services and that this is going to have direct implications for patients and their carers. This means making clear that the problems are systemic and that blaming and abusing individual staff members is never acceptable behaviour.