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Ruth May condemns ‘unacceptable’ abuse of school nurses



NHS England chief nursing officer Ruth May has spoken out against abuse of school nurses delivering the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

In a tweet on Friday, Ms May said she was ‘shocked to hear of some of the negative experiences’ of nurses delivering Covid jabs to ‘thousands of school-age children’, and stressed that the NHS has a ‘zero tolerance policy towards all abuse of NHS staff’.

She added: ‘It is completely unacceptable to ever target NHS staff who are simply doing their job, and trying their best to protect our loved ones and our children.’

This comes after Sharon White, School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPNHA) chief executive, tweeted last week that some parents were ‘hounding’ school nurses on school premises.

Speaking to Nursing in Practice, Ms White said she had heard of threats, swearing and ‘screaming’ towards school nurses. Parents have also damaged their cars by ‘keying’ them or letting down tyres, blocked them from entering schools and sent ‘threatening, legal-looking’ emails, she said.

She added: ‘Anti-vaxxers have been hounding school immunisation providers ever since the vaccination programme for 12- to 15-year olds was launched in September.’

Helen Donovan, RCN Professional Lead for Public Health, said: ‘Some nursing staff have been subjected to abhorrent behaviour throughout this pandemic. It is unthinkable when they have been at the forefront of the vaccination programme which is essential to reducing the risks of Covid-19.

‘We urge the public to continue to support our hardworking healthcare workers. We expect employers to ensure they are doing all they can to protect nursing staff. Any harassment of health and care staff undertaking their work is a criminal matter and must be referred to the police.’

This comes amid ongoing concern over abuse against healthcare staff since the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020.

In January, Nursing in Practice heard that Incidents of abuse towards primary care nurses during Covid-19 are on the increase. And figures from the 2020 NHS Staff Survey showed 28.5% of the 569,440 NHS employees in England had experienced bullying or harassment.

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