Neil Hamilton, MS for Mid & West Wales, and Leader of UKIP Wales has expressed his concern over the number of incidents of people abusing NHS staff.

Mr Hamilton, a member of the Climate Change, Environment and Rural Affairs committee, said the behaviour of some members of the public was totally unacceptable.

His comments come after recent figures showed in September there were 61 incidents of violence and aggression towards staff recorded in the Hywel Dda University Health Board area.

He said:“I am appalled and extremely concerned at what I have been hearing. The NHS continues to be at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus with staff going above and beyond the call of duty.

“Every day they go to work to care for patients suffering from Covid and other conditions and they deserve our wholehearted support, not abuse or threats.

“Hywel Dda Health Board has strongly condemned these sort of actions and they have my full support.

“I completely understand that members of the public are frustrated at the sweeping Covid restrictions being inflicted on Wales, but that is not the fault of the NHS.

“The draconian measures by Welsh Government has led to many frustrated and worried people, as thousands face redundancy or loss of income because of the drastic way the pandemic is being dealt with.

“All right minded people just want the NHS staff to be able to get on with their vital work without having to worry about personal safety.”

The health board has revealed that in recent months there have been numerous cases of its staff receiving abuse while either working in the community, or on wards in hospitals.

There have also been cases of community health practitioners being confronted, challenged and abused for simply wearing personal protective equipment, PPE when going out to see patients, despite it being a requirement.

Mandy Rayani, Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Experience, at Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “We are seeing a large number of staff reporting incidents of them experiencing abuse from members of the public. Staff who are working very hard to deliver care and treatment are feeling increasingly upset due to verbal abuse, and sometimes threatening and intimidating behaviour by patients and relatives, particularly when being asked to leave a department whilst their relative is being assessed.

“While the majority of the public treat NHS staff with respect, and appreciate the very difficult work they are doing in challenging circumstances, there are sadly a number of people who behave in a way which causes staff to feel at risk. The health board will not hesitate to report such incidents to the police.

“In relation to COVID, while I appreciate there is frustration and fear in communities, I would stress that if people they see a healthcare worker in the community wearing PPE, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are dealing with a COVID case. It is now standard practice for PPE to be worn to protect each other.”