A number of NHS staff who challenge patients or accompanying relatives about not wearing a face covering have received aggressive reactions, according to the hospital chief executive.
Deborah Needham, the chief executive of Northampton General Hospital, also speaking on behalf of Kettering General Hospital, addressed the issue at today’s weekly Covid-19 press briefing.
Ms Needham was clear that the aggression would not be tolerated and that those portraying that disrespect would be asked to leave the premises, as she pleaded with public to respect her staff.
She said: “It’s fair to say that the past 12 months have been the toughest period the NHS has faced and we wouldn’t have got through it without the fantastic support from our public.
“But we have got to have the support continuing.
“We can’t afford to drop our guard at any point. We must continue to stick to the rules.
“When you’re in either one of our hospitals, if you’re not wearing either a mask or a face covering or appropriate PPE you should expect that my staff will respectfully challenge you.
“We know that some people are exempt from wearing masks, but that’s only if they have a valid reason, such as children under 11 or because of a physical condition or if wearing a mask causes you some sort of distress.
“Unfortunately we have had recent cases where patients or their relatives who have been accompanying them have acted quite aggressively when challenged by our staff.
“My message today to the public in Northamptonshire is please respect our staff. They’ve got a duty to protect all of our patients and each other from any unnecessary risk.
“Reacting in a way that makes our staff feel threatened is not going to be tolerated.
“I will not tolerate that as the chief executive of this organisation and we will be asking you to leave our premises if you do react in an aggressive way towards our staff.”
The chief executive went on to say that case numbers within the two hospitals are ‘starting to decline’, although both hospitals remain busy.
At the peak of this wave of the virus, the hospitals combined were caring for 411 Covid positive patients.
This number has now more than halved and as of today (February 19) there are 178 Covid positive patients across the two sites.
Ms Needham continued to confirm that due to these declining numbers, the board have started to plan how non-urgent care, which has had to be postponed this year, will be resumed.
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