The Sunday Times says

It's sick to abuse hospital caregivers

That verbal, and even physical, abuse against nurses is common should be of concern to society as it involves the health of a sector that requires more dedicated workers. Thoughtless abuse is the last thing that is needed given the demanding nature of their work. Failing to curb such behaviour would lower the standing of the hospital as a rewarding work environment. Patients and visitors must realise that every case of abuse is an attack on the morale of the very people on whom they depend more than anyone else when hospitalised. It would work against the public if the lack of respect shown by the minority turns off hardworking and committed workers eyeing the field.

No doubt, sick people and their families may be facing a lot of stress. Nursing professionals understand that reality but they have protocols to follow which are in the best interests of patients as a whole. They cannot bend the rules if requests might disrupt the monitoring of the ill, hinder recovery, spread infections, disrupt hospital operations or inconvenience other patients.

Public hospitals and clinics are doing their part in stepping up training programmes for their staff so they can handle the abusive politely but firmly. In extreme situations, specially trained security personnel might be needed to preserve the safety that all would expect within the hospital environment. For visitors who insist on resorting to violence despite warnings, the law might have to be invoked. But it should never have to come to that. Hospital staff merit the greatest respect for dealing with a wide range of medical conditions day in and day out. They do not deserve to be at the receiving end of any frustrations about healthcare systems or costs that are beyond their control.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 03, 2016, with the headline 'It's sick to abuse hospital caregivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe