England's top nurse has lambasted those who have attacked Lewisham and Greenwich NHS workers.

Ruth May called for the public to pay respect to NHS staff following a number of reports of abuse.

The chief nursing officer for England said that "idiotic" attacks risk overshadowing public displays of gratitude towards those on the frontline battling the rising tide of coronavirus cases.

It comes after Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and University College Hospital in London emailed staff members to warn them not to wear their ID badges in public after members of staff were mugged for them.

And nurses have been warned by their union not to travel in their uniforms after reports of staff in the community being shouted at and spat upon.

Ms May said: "Our NHS and social care staff are pulling out all the stops in the face of an unprecedented global health threat, so I am shocked at some of the stories I am hearing of NHS staff being assaulted, spat at or attacked for their ID badges.

"I was deeply moved by the country coming together to clap our carers last week and the many stories of generosity from businesses and members of the public, but these inspiring displays of gratitude are at risk of being overshadowed by the stupid behaviour of an idiotic few who are putting lives at risk.

"So I am calling on the public to respect and listen to NHS staff, because you may be needing them very soon - please stay at home, wash your hands and save lives."

Ms May's call came after it emerged police officers and health workers had been deliberately coughed at or spat upon by suspects.

A man was Tasered in north London after it was claimed he attacked officers in a car, while another suspect allegedly spat at three officers in Brighton.

In a separate incident in Salford, a hospital worker suffered a fractured cheekbone after he was punched in the face.