They are being spat on, yelled at and verbally abused, and now hospitals in Australia and the UK are urging staff to avoid wearing their uniforms in public to avoid such violence.
In a disturbing trend, people are taking their frustrations and fears of COVID-19 on healthcare workers, wrongly claiming they are spreading the virus by commuting, grocery shopping and buying petrol.
Incidents reported to the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NMA) include workers being sworn at, assaulted, harassed, and deliberately coughed and spat at while going about their day.
The NMA has reported workers being told by hospital administration staff to avoid wearing their uniforms to work as a result of this.
An example of such abuse occurred in Penrith when police were called to a McDonald’s after a pregnant midwife was verbally attacked before her shift.
“When showing her ID for a free coffee, a driver behind her yelled that she should not be spreading the virus,” the NMA said.
Another nurse was screamed at when she stopped to get dinner at Coles.
There have also been reports of racial slurs, with staff at one cafe refusing to serve a nurse in scrubs because “she couldn’t read English and “because of COVID-19”.
Unfortunately, the abuse does not end here.
The ABC reported that doctors were finding it increasingly difficult to secure new accommodation because tenants refused to share their space with healthcare workers.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has slammed the “unacceptable” behaviour of those who abuse medical professionals.
“It’s not Australian, it’s not the way Aussies behave,” he said in a press conference.
He added, “I think every right-minded member of our community would be appalled that our doctors and nurses are being targets for these people, who don’t seem to get it.
“They might be actually putting a tube down your throat to keep you alive [and] you will wish you hadn’t actually done what you did previously.
“I want all of us as a community to make it clear to that small minority that your behaviour is completely unacceptable, completely.”
We would like to take the time to thank the medical staff protecting our community. You are real superheroes.