Intensive care doctor 'receives 20-30 abusive messages a day from COVID deniers'

Ellen Manning
·3-min read
A staff nurse puts on PPE in the corridor of the Acute Dependency Unit at St George's Hospital in Tooting, south-west London.
A doctor has told how she is receiving up to 30 abusive messages from COVID deniers. (PA)

An intensive care doctor has revealed that she is receiving up to 30 abusive messages on social media every day, adding to the strain of the coronavirus crisis.

Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden, a senior registrar currently working in intensive care in the South East, said she has been inundated with messages - especially from COVID deniers.

Her comments come just weeks after the head of the NHS has said people who deny the existence of coronavirus were responsible for people’s deaths and belittled the work of nurses who were already exhausted and stretched thin.

Batt-Rawden told the BBC: “We’ve actually had quite a lot of abuse, particularly on social media.

“It’s mainly around that COVID is somehow a hoax or a conspiracy, so people just not believing NHS staff who are trying to speak up about how bad things are on the frontline at the moment.”

Watch: What you can and can't do during England's third national lockdown

She said: “I’ve had somewhere between 20 to 30 abusive messages a day, and that’s been everything from swearing and calling me names to saying, ‘well I don’t care who’s dying, you can’t tell me what to do’.”

She said messages included one that said: “I couldn’t care less who I apparently murder by not wearing a mask. F**k off and die.”

Another said: “I love the way you NHS workers think you have the right to boss us around like we’re selfish for breathing. You don’t give a damn about our lives.”

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Dr Batt-Rawden said she wasn’t alone and one junior A&E doctor had told her they didn’t want to go into work because there was a horde of people shouting at them saying that COVID was a hoax.

She has since started a social media campaign to encourage support for NHS workers.

Earlier this month NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens launched a blistering attack on those who deny the existence of COVID-19, accusing them of “lying”.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, Sir Simon said: “Let’s just be completely straight forward about it when people say that it is a lie.

“If you sneak into a hospital in an empty corridor at 9 o’clock at night and film that particular corridor and then stick it up on social media and say this proves the hospitals are empty the whole thing is a hoax.

“You are not only responsible for potentially changing behaviour that will kill people but it is an insult to the nurse coming home from 12 hours in critical care having worked their guts under on the most demanding and trying of circumstances.

“There is nothing more demoralising than having that kind of nonsense spouted when it is most obviously untrue.”

Watch: What is long COVID?