Virus deniers ‘don’t care who’s dying’
A doctor in the UK's National Health Service has revealed coronavirus deniers are sending her and other doctors dozens of abusive messages daily, saying they don't care who dies from the virus which has now killed more than 87,000 Britons.
"We've actually had a lot of abuse, particularly on social media, it's mainly around that COVID is somehow a hoax or conspiracy, so people are just not believing NHS staff trying to speak up about just how bad things are on the front line," Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden told the BBC.
Dr Batt-Rawden is a senior registrar in the NHS, where she's worked for around a decade.
She said she's been receiving between 20 and 30 abusive messages a day.
"That's been everything from swearing and calling me names, to people saying 'I don't care who's dying, you can't tell me what to do'."
"I don't give a s**t who's dying," said another message read out by Dr Batt-Rawden.
Other messages included people telling healthcare workers "You chose your job, deal with it" and alleging the staff in British hospitals "don't give a damn about our lives".
One claimed that "I'm not responsible for anyone's health except my own," while another admitted they "couldn't care less who I apparently murder by not wearing a mask".
"I love the way you NHS workers think you have the right to boss us around like we're selfish for breathing," Dr Batt-Rawden read from another.
One eloquent message simply said healthcare workers should "f**k off and die".
"This has devastate morale," Dr Batt-Rawden said, describing a junior doctor in the accident and emergency department telling her they were too scared to come into work because of abuse they received from virus deniers both online and off.
"That's really hard when you're actually giving your all to try and save patients on the front line when things are so difficult," Dr Batt-Rawden said.
The doctor has recently begun a campaign to offset some of the abuse by encouraging people to show their support for health care workers online with a blue heart emoji.
I am devastated by the abuse NHS staff are getting on Twitter. You might have noticed I’ve been posting 💙 for a while hoping it will catch on...but if you stand with the NHS and it’s staff please you will help turn Twitter blue and pop an #NHSblueheart on your name? Pls RT! pic.twitter.com/9X8s9HdGZY— Dr Samantha Batt-Rawden 💙 (@sbattrawden) January 6, 2021
She said she didn't expect the campaign to catch on but was surprised to see it trending number one on UK Twitter.
"I did end up having a little sob," she said, adding the visible support was helping remind workers that most people are on their side.
"NHS staff really need that tidal wave of support," she said. "We just want to keep you safe, to stay at home and not end up in my intensive care unit."
The UK recorded 55,761 new cases and 1,280 deaths on Friday.
More than 3.2 million people have received their first dose of a vaccine.
Originally published as Virus deniers 'don't care who's dying'