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Politicians and health leaders condemn racist attacks against NHS staff following ITV News investigation

Surgeon Radhakrishna Shanbhag describing his experience of racial abuse. Credit: ITV News

Jeremy Corbyn has joined in widespread condemnation of the rising tide of racist abuse against NHS staff following an ITV News investigation.

The Labour leader described the treatment of Radhakrishna Shanbhag - the orthopaedic surgeon who emotionally recalled the moment a patient requested a white doctor perform her operation instead of him - as “horrific” and pledged to protect the diverse NHS workforce should his party win power in next month’s election.

ITV News revealed last week that recorded verbal and physical racist attacks directed at those who serve the health service have soared by 145% in six years.

Multiple doctors and nurses have since come forward with similarly disturbing tales of prejudice and discrimination during their time in the health service.

The alarming findings also prompted an outpouring of anger from senior politicians and industry leaders as well as demands for a tougher approach to racist patients and visitors.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said the situation was “heartbreaking”, but stopped short of backing calls to withdraw treatment to patients who use racially abuse language or refuse care from a black or Asian clinician.

Bristol’s Southmead Hospital, however, announced yesterday it’s new “zero-tolerance” policy which includes stopping treatment "as soon as is safe" if a patient is abusive.

The head of NHS Improvement - which oversees trusts - said every part of the health service "need to work harder to support our people when they face abuse, racism or prejudice".

  • If you’re an NHS worker who’s suffered similar prejudice, get in touch: @jamierobitv/jamie.roberton@itn.co.uk