'We do not come to work to be abused' - arrest warning after patient 'deliberately' coughed in face of Sunderland doctor
A patient who deliberately coughed in the face of a Sunderland doctor has been arrested and will appear before court.
South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and Northumbria Police have issued a warning that anyone abusing or assaulting NHS staff risks arrest and being refused treatment after the shocking incident.
The warning comes after a patient allegedly coughed deliberately in the face of a doctor in the Emergency Department at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
The incident was reported to Northumbria Police and the patient was immediately arrested and has since been issued a court summons.
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Steve Jamieson, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s Director of Estates and Facilities, said the trust will always push to prosecute those who abuse its staff.
He said: “NHS staff and other essential workers have worked tirelessly throughout the past few months to keep vital services running, despite the threat of coronavirus; they do not deserve to be treated with anything other than respect.
“Unfortunately, a minority of people do sometimes act in a violent and abusive manner towards them and this is simply not acceptable.
“We want to make it absolutely clear that we will not tolerate physical, verbal or racist abuse.”
Dr Dave Bramley, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and the Trust’s Clinical Lead for Urgent and Emergency Care, added: “We come to work each day to protect and help people, not to be abused.”
In March this year, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, warned that anyone using coronavirus to threaten emergency and essential workers faces serious criminal charges.
Assaults against emergency workers are punishable by up to 12 months in prison.
Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt from Northumbria Police’s Southern Area Command said: “Over the past few months we have dealt with a number of incidents where we have seen people coughed and spat on for simply doing their job.
“Anyone who carries out an appalling assault like this should be aware they will be dealt with robustly and through the criminal justice system.
“The courts are sending a strong message to offenders and we will continue to ensure anyone who is targeted in this way receives the appropriate support.”