A new front

Let’s protest against…frontline healthcare workers?

Lives are being put at risk and the care of patients disrupted by a spate of hospital incursions from Covid-19 deniers whose online activity is channelling hatred against NHS staff, say healthcare and police chiefs.

In the latest example of a growing trend, a group of people were ejected by security from a Covid-19 ward last week as one of them filmed staff, claimed that the virus was a hoax, and demanded that a seriously ill patient be sent home.

“He will die if he is taken from from here,” a consultant tells the man on footage, which was later shared on social media. Following contact by the Guardian, Facebook took down footage and other shocking posts in which conspiracy theorists described NHS staff as “ventilator killers”.

One guy went to East Surrey hospital with a camera and told a consultant to send that patient there home.

In the footage, a man behind the camera remonstrates with a consultant, who tells him that a patient will die if his oxygen tube is removed. When asked about what treatment is being given, the consultant explains that the patient has coronavirus pneumonia affecting both of lungs and is being treated with steroids and antibiotics.

The man behind the camera says that patient should be brought home and the treatment replaced with vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc, but is told by the consultant: “None of those are proven treatments for coronavirus.”

Also who the fuck are you, what is your medical training, why are you here, why are you telling me what to do, shut up and get out and never come back.

Since New Year’s Eve, when hundreds turned up outside St Thomas’ hospital in London, conspiracy theorists have stalked the wards of as many as a dozen hospitals to gather footage, which has been shared on social media.

Couldn’t someone get them interested in UFOs or alien abductions instead?

The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), a union representing frontline medics, said it was unacceptable that staff working themselves into the ground to keep patients safe were having to worry about a new threat from Covid deniers and anti-maskers. It said Twitter and Facebook had a responsibility to ensure those breaking into hospitals to film footage were not given a platform.

The incident at East Surrey hospital, where police issued fines and warnings and continue to investigate what they described as an “escalation” on social media, comes after the arrests earlier this month of four men allegedly filming inside hospitals in the West Midlands and Worcestershire, and of a woman in Gloucestershire.

Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents trusts in England, said the incursion was risky both to patients and staff. “Trust leaders are concerned about the recent activities of Covid deniers ranging filming empty areas at night-time and protesting outside hospitals,” he said.

“Entering a Covid ward, putting patient and staff lives at risk and then posting a video online afterwards plumbs new lows. It’s not only dangerous, it’s also deeply disrespectful of the extraordinary efforts by frontline NHS staff who, day in, day out are working flat out to save the lives of seriously ill patients.

I listened to a Radio 4 thing last night on the Covid anniversary, that had frontline staff saying what it was like, and it was utterly heart-wrenching.

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