Medics in the UK are being robbed and even knifed for their ID cards by crooks who want to cash in on the benefits being offered to support those at the frontline of tackling the pandemic.
The scandal was revealed by a children’s doctor working in London who said that in some cases doctors had even been robbed at knifepoint to obtain their precious ID cards.
Dr Natalie Vallant, 35, said the British public have been amazing in offering benefits to hard-pressed medics and doctors like her but that there were now being targeted by crooks who wanted to cash in on those advantages.
She said that for example before the lockdown happened, restaurants and cafe’s led the way. She said: “With our employee passes, we got given free hot drinks as a thank you for our efforts.”
Newsflash spoke to medics in the UK who said that even after lockdown the public was still prepared to help. One doctor married to a nurse was recently given a free car hire to get to work when his broke down, and others said the public had been buying food in supermarkets to make sure medics unable to afford the time to queue had what they need.
It followed on from an appeal by tearful nurse Dawn Bilbrough, who appealed to people to stop panic buying after she was unable to find basic food items in her supermarket following a 48-hour shift.
Those in the medical profession are also entitled to move around without restrictions despite the lockdown that is forcing most others to stay home to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Speaking about the thefts, Dr Vallant said the benefits meant that “the passes are now popular with people who are not authorised to use them. They are even being stolen from colleagues and I even heard about one case that involved a stabbing over an ID card.”
Doctors in the UK have various identity documents, including NHS ID cards and NHS smartcards, and one emergency room doctor in the UK told Newsflash: “I have heard from colleagues about people being mugged, there was supposed to be a case near here where somebody tried to steal the doctor’s ID but he ran off. I know that some ID cards have pictures, but to be honest whenever I use mine people don’t even look at the photograph.”
Dr Vallant is a surgeon who works as a paediatric doctor in two London children’s hospitals. The 35-year-old who is from Mauerach am Achensee in Tyrol in Austria said many of her colleagues had asked why she did not go home, but she said she did not want to abandon her patients. She said: “I would have preferred nothing more than that, but it’s not that easy. I am responsible for all the children I look after. I couldn’t let them and my team down.”
But she said that she thought the UK, which unlike her homeland Austria had not immediately ordered a lockdown, had reacted too slowly. She said: “When it became clear that the coronavirus was going to be a real problem, the UK reacted too late compared to Austria.”
She also spoke about the hidden cost on for example sick children whose care was being put on hold because of the measures to tackle the pandemic.
She said: “The situation has changed within the hospitals. With us, all transplants were initially cancelled for one month. We only carry out vital interventions, such as access surgeries for dialysis. Children in particular would die relatively quickly in the event of acute kidney failure.”
Even the operations that are done have to be carried out with full safety precautions with every patient treated as if they have the disease.
She said: “This makes the processes very difficult, the time in operating theatres is longer and we have to wear masks and full visors.”
He said the reason this was important was underlined by the fact that four senior doctors were currently out of action in quarantine after showing symptoms of the disease.
She added: “In principle, we have coronavirus screening tests. But nobody knows how and where you can get such tests.”
Asked if she was worried about her own health, she said that she was young and fit, and was taking the measures that she could including avoiding the underground, and instead cycling 45 minutes each day to work and back.
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