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NHS staff are increasingly facing abuse from patients amid frustration caused by long waiting lists, medical bodies have said.
In a joint statement, reported by the Guardian, six medical bodies have blamed the delays in receiving treatment on chronic staff shortages and years of successive government underinvestment in the NHS.
It has been claimed that patients are taking out their frustrations on health workers including A&E staff, ambulance crews, receptionists, nurses, midwives, call handlers, social care staff and those administering Covid-19 vaccinations.
In 2020-21 the London Ambulance Service recorded 1,025 incidents of non-physical or verbal abuse and 650 physical assaults against staff, while the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board said 354 violent and aggressive incidents and threats are carried out every month.
It is a criminal offence to assault an emergency services worker and it carries up to 12 months in prison.
The statement said that “distressing” recent attacks on GPs and their teams are part of a “phenomenon [happening] right across health and care”, and that ministers should be “honest and transparent” about the pressures on the NHS to make it clear that “the problems are systemic and that blaming and abusing individual staff members is never acceptable behaviour.”
It said: “We understand that individuals become frustrated at long waits, delays in their care or other problems in the delivery of services they rightly expect.
“However, blaming individual members of staff, whether clinical or adminis