UK COVID-19 Update: Violence Against Healthcare Workers, Latest COVID Death Figures

Peter Russell

August 10, 2021

These are the UK coronavirus stories you need to know about today.

Pandemic Doctor Abuse

A poll by the British Medical Association (BMA) suggested that more than a third of doctors have faced abuse from patients or their family and friends during the pandemic.

The situation was worse for GPs where more than half of respondents said they had to deal with abuse in the past month.

Among the main findings from the doctors' union were that:

  • 37% of all respondents had experienced verbal abuse first-hand in the most recent month – including 51% of GPs and 30% of hospital doctors

  • One in 5 GPs reported being threatened

  • 51% said they had witnessed violence or abuse against other staff, which rose to 67% for doctors working in general practice

  • Hospital doctors were most likely to report abuse of nurses (87%) or other doctors (65%)

  • 67% of GPs) said their experience of abuse, threatening behaviour, or violence had deteriorated in the past year

  • Most respondents said dissatisfaction with service or treatment access was the main reason behind the abuse

Responding to the survey findings Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said: "The last year-and-a-half has been an incredibly challenging time for both doctors and patients, and many doctors share the frustration of their patients around unfamiliar ways of working, or if waiting times are too long. However, abuse, violence and threats are absolutely unacceptable and should never be tolerated.

"GPs and their colleagues are doing their absolute best, day in, day out, to provide care to their local communities, and we know that the vast majority of our patients appreciate the hard work we are doing. However, these findings show an incredibly worrying trend, with GPS reporting rising levels of abuse against staff in general practice, who are already working under intense pressure.

“Facing such abuse leaves doctors fearing for the safety of themselves, their colleagues, and their loved ones, which can have a profound effect on their wellbeing. It can leave even the most resilient GP feeling alienated and undervalued, leaving them questioning their career when the NHS can ill afford to lose any more staff in general practice. Meanwhile, being on the receiving end of rudeness can impact productivity and the quality of work, ultimately threatening patient care."

The BMA said the pandemic had left the NHS in a "precarious state" after 18 months of a pandemic and that patients needed to be reminded that health professionals were doing their best in unprecedented times.

Support for Healthcare Workers Who Died During COVID

A charity founded by NHS workers during the pandemic launched a fund to support children of front-line healthcare staff who died with COVID-19.

The Healthcare Workers' Foundation (HWF) would provide an annual grant of £5000 to pupils beginning a higher education or higher qualification course.

The Memorial Fund, part of the charity’s Families Programme, aimed to ease the financial pressure and strain on prospective students who have lost a parent, the Press Association reported.

The charity said that the UK had had the highest number of COVID healthcare worker-related deaths in the world, registering more than 850 deaths because of COVID, impacting on their families.

"We are acutely aware of how difficult losing a parent or loved one can be, so its Families Programme was dedicated to providing those families with access to free counselling, respite breaks, mentoring services, and guidance in career and education," it said in a statement on its website.

The family of Elsie Sazuze, a 44-year-old care home nurse, who died after developing COVID earlier this year, was already being supported by donations to secure bereavement counselling, respite care, legal advice, and career support for her husband and two children, the charity said.

"All of these things HWF is doing are keeping us going and giving us faith," Ms Sazuze's husband, Ken, said.

Mortality Figures

The number of deaths involving COVID-19 in England increased to 389 in the week ending July 30 compared with the previous week, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Deaths involving COVID in Wales decreased to 13 in week 30 compared with 16 in the same time period, it said.

Of the deaths registered in week 30 in England and Wales, 404 mentioned COVID-19, accounting for 4% of all deaths – an increase compared with the preceding week.

The number of deaths involving COVID-19 increased in 7 of the 9 English regions in the latest period, with the largest increase reported in Yorkshire and The Humber.

Overall, the number of deaths registered in the UK in the week ending July 30 was 11,573, which was 1262 more than the 5-year average, statisticians said.

"All of these things HWF is doing are keeping us going and giving us faith

In Other News

  • An infectious disease expert said it was "absolutely inevitable" that some variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus would escape the protection of the COVID-19 vaccine. Prof Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia, told the all-party parliamentary group on coronavirus: that seasonal coronaviruses in circulation will infect people "repeatedly" throughout their lives, typically on average every four or five years.

  • Giving evidence to the same committee, Prof Sir Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, claimed herd immunity was "not a possibility" with the current Delta variant. "Anyone who's still unvaccinated, at some point, will still meet the virus", he cautioned". There was also a possibility that the virus could "throw up" a more infectious variant for people already vaccinated, he said.

  • England's Health Secretary said that today's A-level results showed a record number of acceptances for nursing, midwifery, medicine, and dentistry courses. "The dedication healthcare professionals have shown during the pandemic has clearly inspired the next generation in our health service," he tweeted.


See more global coronavirus updates in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Centre.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: