- “I have been shouted at on the street several times.”
- “I’ve been assaulted a number of times in the Covid-19 emergency department.”
- “The cumulative daily toll of being at the receiving end of anger is demoralising and upsetting, when everyone is just trying to do their best in very difficult times.”
Over a third (34%) of doctors say they have suffered verbal or physical abuse from patients, or patients’ relatives during Covid-19, according to a survey by the Medical Protection Society (MPS).
The MPS survey of doctors in Ireland, also showed that a further 7% have experienced verbal or physical abuse from a member of the public outside of a medical setting, with some saying they have been shouted at in the street.
MPS – the world’s leading protection organisation for healthcare professionals, supporting over 21,000 in Ireland – described the survey results as “deplorable”, and said the abuse presents yet another source of anxiety for doctors at the worst possible time. In the same MPS survey, 2 in 5 doctors say their mental wellbeing is worse compared to the start of the pandemic.
Dr Pallavi Bradshaw, Medicolegal Lead, Risk Prevention at MPS, said: “These survey results make for difficult reading. While this is an unsettling and extremely stressful time for the public, it is sad and deplorable to think that 1 in 3 doctors who go to work every day in the most challenging circumstances, putting patients first, face abuse in and outside of their workplace.
“One doctor told us they receive abuse almost daily in local shops. One said they have had food thrown at them by teenagers, and another said they have been shouted at on the street several times.
“This presents yet another source of anxiety for doctors at a time when many have expressed grave concerns about their mental wellbeing. In our survey 2 in 5 doctors in Ireland say their mental wellbeing is worse compared to the start of the pandemic.
“The need for mental wellbeing support is all the more important and urgent given the surge in the number of healthcare workers that are off work due to Covid-19 related issues. Those working in both HSE and private healthcare settings, must be properly supported.”