Hospital staff appeal for abuse to stop

Communications TeamNews

Barely three weeks have gone by since viewers across the country were left “gobsmacked” by the amount of abuse and disruption caused by patients and visitors in Hull’s A&E Department.

Channel 5’s A&E After Dark took viewers behind the scenes of the Emergency Department at Hull Royal Infirmary where, in some of its darker moments, patients and relatives were filmed spitting at, threatening and verbally abusing staff.

Throughout the series, week after week, people took to social media to shame the people exhibiting such behaviours and to commend staff for their professionalism.

Yet frontline NHS workers and reception staff are on the receiving end of abuse once again, this time linked to social distancing and new rules brought in to protect patients and visitors from the threat of COVID19.

Dr Ben Rayner, consultant in emergency medicine who also appeared in the TV series (pictured, top) says no matter what the situation, verbal abuse towards staff is not acceptable.

“Several weeks ago, we introduced social distancing within our Emergency Care area to protect people and help limit the spread of COVID19. This essentially means people must stay 2 metres apart and, in most cases, must wait alone.

“Since then, we’ve seen an unacceptably high number of incidents where staff have been sworn at and verbally abused simply because visitors cannot wait in the hospital with their friend or relative needing treatment.

“The reality of the situation is that patient attendances are rising once again and we’re regularly seeing around 350 patients in the department every day now. There simply isn’t space to comply with social distancing requirements and have friends or family waiting alongside our patients.

“Upon arrival, a lot of people are saying they didn’t know that patients had to wait alone. Even if that’s the case, shouting at staff who are simply doing their job and trying to protect everyone in the hospital is not going to change the situation.

“We understand that loved ones may be worried, but anyone who is considered well enough to wait in either our GP streaming or Minors areas of the emergency department is most likely well enough to wait on their own.

“Our jobs are difficult and stressful enough at any time. Those being subjected to verbal abuse are also someone’s mum, dad, sister, brother, daughter or son. We’d really urge people to think about that; would you be happy with someone shouting abuse at a member of your family, just for doing their job?

“COVID19 has not gone away, so we all have a duty to act responsibly and respectfully. Our staff come to work in a place of care, and we will not tolerate raised voices, bad language or threatening behaviour towards staff. No one should have to put up with that.

“If a patient really has to attend A&E, we’d recommend they and anyone who might be planning to come with them or bring them to hospital familiarise themselves with the rules. They are not there to be difficult, they are there for everyone’s protection.”


Rules for HRI’s Emergency Department check-in and waiting areas

The number of people in our Emergency Department is being restricted to keep everyone safe.

  • Seats in our waiting areas have been placed 2 metres apart
  • Face masks or another form of face covering such as a scarf or buff must be work inside the hospital at all times
  • Floor stickers and signage have been placed at reception areas – please stand on the circles and behind the lines where indicated
  • Only patients requiring treatment can enter the department
  • The only exceptions are carers, a parent of a child requiring treatment, or if you are supporting someone with learning difficulties or dementia.
  • Our highly trained and experienced staff will assist everyone else, including your loved one if they are in pain or distress.
  • Please be respectful and courteous at all times. Anyone subjecting any member of our staff to threats or abuse will be ejected from our hospital and could face further action.
  • Please make use of the handwash facilities and hand sanitiser which can be found throughout the department.