York nurse speaks out after facing discrimination and aggression from patients during the pandemic

Nurse Louise, in a still from the video

A nurse has spoken out about discrimination she has faced from patients since the outbreak of coronavirus.

Practice nurse Louise at Haxby Group – which runs six GP surgeries across York – said she has faced “upsetting” comments and behaviour from patients during the pandemic.

And the practice is now asking residents support them as they take a stand against discrimination.

In a video, Louise made an appeal to patients saying:

  • I’ve been repeatedly asked where I’m from and some patients’ responses have been quite aggressive.

    Other conversations have also been inappropriate, to the point where I’ve been asked if I’ve been involved in a conspiracy theory to create the pandemic.

    In the last few weeks during the Covid pandemic I’ve noticed some patients’ behaviours have made me feel quite uncomfortable.

‘My heritage is not relevant’

“I’m here to look after your health care needs.

“My heritage is not relevant to providing you with care.

“Whenever I encounter this behaviour it has a negative effect on my wellbeing. It’s upsetting to me and it’s not something I feel should happen in today’s society.”

Prof Mike Holmes, a parter at the practice and vice chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said it is “entirely unacceptable” for staff to face this kind of behaviour.

And he called for patients to be aware of comments and actions that could be perceived as discriminatory.

He said: “Nobody should be treated like that when delivering care to the public.

“At Haxby Group we take this incredibly seriously and are taking a zero-tolerance approach.”

He said if a patient is aggressive or inappropriate towards any member of staff, the appointment will be halted immediately if it is clinically appropriate, the behaviour will be highlighted – and further steps could be taken to address the incident.

Prof Holmes said: “This sort of conduct covers discriminatory behaviour of all types – not just those related to race.

“We always aim to have caring and beneficial relationships with our patients and to deliver the best care we can.”

He said staff appreciate the support and understanding of patients.

‘Incredibly sad’

Glenn Turp, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing in Yorkshire and the Humber said it is “incredibly sad” that GP practices have to defend their staff against a small number of of patients.

He said: “The vast majority of the British public back and support their carers. Every Thursday the nation applauds them.

“It is completely unacceptable that nurses, GPs, clinicians and healthcare staff should have to face any form of abuse or discrimination by patients at work.

“NHS and primary care staff are facing very difficult and challenging working conditions during the current coronavirus pandemic. So it is absolutely imperative that they are able to go about their work and care for patients without this form of behaviour.”