Nurses spat on, abused amid COVID-19 hysteria
NURSES and cleaners at Lismore Base, Grafton and Tweed hospitals have recently been subject to abusive behaviour on their way into and out of work.
A whistleblower who has close connections with nurses at Lismore and Tweed hospitals, and asked not to be named, told The Northern Star that local hospital staff have been spat on and verbally abused for wearing scrubs to work.
"Nurses are being spat on and copping abuse if they're seen anywhere in their scrubs," the informant said.
"The common statement is, 'you're spreading the disease.'
"It's the epitome of ignorance.
"Most staff don't work in the COVID-19 clinics.
"They are very careful to prevent the spread of disease.
"Nurses and cleaners should be revered for what they're doing."
Northern NSW Local Health District boss Wayne Jones said no official reports had been made to the health district.
Mr Jones did confirm that last week Lismore Base Hospital staff were advised to wear clothing other than scrubs to and from work.
"The hospital issued a memo encouraging staff to change out of their uniforms, so they aren't unfairly targeted, or subjected to any unnecessary stress," he said.
"It was mainly to de-identify them so that people don't ask them a heap of questions while they're out and about.
"These people deserve their downtime."
Lismore's head of nursing Narelle Gleeson said she had not received any complaints from members of the public concerned about seeing nurses in scrubs, or any reports of staff being spat on.
Meanwhile, the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association confirmed reports of abuse from Grafton.
Union general secretary, Brett Holmes, urged the public to trust nurses during this time.
"We're hearing more and more instances of nurses being verbally abused, spat on or at and even assaulted, because they were seen in their in uniforms in their community," Mr Holmes said.
"This has to stop.
"There's a perception that nurses could be spreading COVID-19 if they are seen in uniform - this is false.
"I assure you, nurses and midwives are highly skilled professionals.
"They are trained in infection control and know the protocols and procedures to follow.
"It is the case more nurses are now wearing regular clothes to and from work, just to avoid any confrontations.
"I urge members of the public to respect all nurses and midwives who are working hard in the current COVID-19 health crisis.
"I urge our members and any community witnesses to report any instances of assault or abuse towards nurses and midwives to NSW Police.
"I have been assured that NSW Police are ready, willing and able to prosecute people who abuse our frontline workers."