A group of people who refused to wear masks abused NHS staff at the East Surrey Hospital in Redhill and gained access to a patient critically ill with Covid, it has emerged.

The news broke earlier today (January 27) after Surrey Police, who are investigating the incident, issued a public appeal in the search for one of the people thought to be involved in the shocking scenes that took place last Thursday (January 21).

"A number of people, some of whom were not wearing masks, gained access to the critical care ward to visit a family member and were abusive towards hospital staff when they were asked to do so.

"They also refused to leave," a statement published by Surrey Police describing the event read.

This Is Local London: Wanted posted for Toby Hayden-Leigh issued by Surrey PoliceWanted posted for Toby Hayden-Leigh issued by Surrey Police

The police later arrived, fining two of the group for breaching covid restrictions.

They also issued a 'breach of the peace' warning which resulted in the group, who could subsequently have been arrested, leaving the location.

Reports emerged Wednesday that those involved denied the existence of coronavirus, prompting condemnation.  

Surrey Police are now searching for one of the people suspected of being involved, identified as Toby Hayden-Leigh, 45, of Maidstone, Kent.

The police statement said they were searching for him in relation to the incident at East Surrey Hospital and subsequent social media posts "which included videos and abusive comments towards hospital staff".

East Surrey Detective Chief Inspector Kimball Edey described the abuse reported as "extremely concerning":

"We would like to speak to Hayden-Leigh in connection with this incident, and the escalating abusive and threatening comments being made towards hospital staff on social media.

"These comments are extremely concerning, and are obviously causing considerable distress for those who are being targeted.

"The staff at the hospital, as are all NHS workers, are trying to care for desperately ill people in extremely challenging circumstances, and to be targeted and abused on social media in this way is simply unacceptable," he said.

Edey also revealed that Hayden-Leigh could be a public health risk after coming into close contact with a critically ill Covid-positive patient.

"We also need to track Hayden-Leigh down as a matter of urgency due to the public health risk he poses.

"He came into close proximity with a patient who remains seriously ill with covid and may well have contracted the virus himself.

"We are appealing for any information and any help we can get from the public to find this man so that we can deal with him appropriately," Edey said.

Anyone with relevant information is asked to call Surrey Police on 101 or visit their website and quote reference number PR/45210007085.