Northern Ireland news

Doctor left in fear over online threats following Covid-19 vaccine advice

Dr Chris Hagan, medical director medical director of the Belfast Trust, has revealed the online abuse which he and colleagues have suffered
Jonathan McCambridge, PA

A leading doctor has told how he has been left in fear after receiving online threats when he encouraged people to come forward for their Covid vaccinations.

Dr Chris Hagan, medical director of the Belfast Trust, revealed the online abuse which he and colleagues had suffered.

Medics in Northern Ireland have continued to encourage people to get their Covid jabs following concerns about the number of young people who have been vaccinated.

Dr Hagan told the BBC’s Nolan Show: “I had people threatening me with summary street justice, I had people calling me a psychopath.

“I am a doctor, I come to work to try and do the best I can for people in Northern Ireland.

“I was appalled and really sad and felt frightened.”

Dr Hagan continued: “One of our trainees in the Mater (Hospital), she posted on Twitter about the abuse that she got online, and the names she was called, I have never seen anything like it.

“The Royal College of Midwives are trying to get across a public health message to protect women who are pregnant because they are getting really sick and the abuse (they receive) just for sharing information, for telling the truth about what is happening and to keep them safe, comparing them to fascists and Nazis. This is appalling, people trying to do their jobs, trying to keep people safe.

“People who work in the health service come to work to do their best, they try to help people, to treat people and cure people. They don’t come to work to deserve that.”

Meanwhile, Health Minister Robin Swann said that “vile abuse” against healthcare staff is becoming “commonplace”.

He condemned online abuse targeted at the chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Gill Walton.

The social media abuse came after the RCM head had encouraged pregnant women to come forward for vaccination.

Mr Swann stated: “This vile abuse is frankly appalling and is sadly becoming all too commonplace.

“I want to take this opportunity to express my solidarity with Gill Walton and to thank her for encouraging vaccination. It is very important that pregnant women get the jab.

“There should be no place in public debate for abusive behaviour or bogus conspiracy theories. We have to be better than this.”

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