An Ayrshire doctor has revealed hospital staff were ‘spat at’ and ‘abused’ during the first weekend of Scotland’s phased lockdown exit.

Dr David Chung, an emergency consultant at Crosshouse Hospital, said he knows of three incidents where medics were assaulted while doing their job.

Dr Chung, who is also vice president for the Royal College of Emergency Medicine in Scotland, blamed mixed messages from down south on the ‘state of play’ with COVID-19 for relaxed attitudes across the country.

Dr Chung told BBC Radio Scotland: “Unfortunately, this weekend, a combination of good weather and some mixed messages, especially from south of the border, with regards to the state of play and coronavirus, have led to some big problems.”

Dr Chung said the sunshine and some people thinking the worst has passed has meant a return to almost normal levels of alcohol and drug related behaviour and violence.

He said: “I am afraid to say, from talking to my colleagues in Scotland, that has included three different episodes where there have been assaults and abusive behaviour on emergency department staff.

“This is very hard for us to bear having worked as hard as we can and doing our best, knowing there is a degree of personal risk.

“Going from Claps for Carers to spat at, punched, abused, and called all sorts of things because people have decided we are there to pick up the pieces rather than (they) try and behave a bit more responsibly.”

Sarah Leslie, human resource director at Ayrshire’s health board, said: “NHS Ayrshire and Arran is committed to ensuring that all our staff have the right to work in a safe environment, free from violence and aggression.

“Acts of violence and aggression directed towards our staff are unacceptable - whatever form they take and whatever reasons are given.”

Ms Leslie said that Ayrshire NHS staff are compassionate and understand attending hospital can be distressing particularly at this time of pandemic when individuals may already be anxious.

But, she said, healthcare workers are trained in dealing with violent and aggressive behaviour, and at all times try to reassure individuals attending hospital.

She said: “It is not part of the duties of any employee to accept or endure threatening or abusive behavior at any time.

“NHS Ayrshire and Arran will fully support any member of staff who feels that they have been abused or intimidated whilst undertaking their work activity.”