VOLUNTEERS and members of staff at Bournemouth and Poole hospitals have been getting abuse from some visitors who don't want to wear face coverings.

The problem has got worse since the government removed all Covid-19 restrictions last month.

Now a senior medic has appealed to those visiting the hospital to 'be kind' and help protect the most vulnerable.

University Hospitals Dorset deputy chief nursing officer, Matt Hodson, said: “In the past few weeks we have had more incidents where some members of the general public haven’t been very pleasant to our volunteers and ward staff and that's unfair.

“Even one person saying something unpleasant to a colleague or a volunteer is simply one person too many.

“We are trying to maintaining a safe environment in our hospitals for everyone and things like mask wearing and social distancing remain an important part of that."

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Mr Hodson added: "I have to say the abuse is the exception not the rule and we do understand that things have changed for most people outside of hospitals. For example many people do not wear face covering in shops now."

Volunteers are at all the entrances at both hospitals offering hand sanitisers and face coverings but not everyone chooses to wear one.

Mr Hodson said: “As staff, we all continue to wear masks and asking all visitors to do the same when they come in.

“Some of the problem is down to mixed messages and some people don’t understand why we want them to continue wearing masks. But it’s not like we are turning people away because they haven’t got a face covering. We provide them."

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He also warned the hospitals were still under significant pressure.

"Cases in the BCP area are higher than the national average and we still need to be vigilant. We are still living with Covid and it is still impacting the community and therefore health and social care services and workforces.

"Lots of people come into our hospitals on a daily or weekly basis for treatment and we all have a role in protecting them.

"It's important that we continue to work in a healthcare environment that protects the most vulnerable."