A hospital department has been rocked by vile anti-Semitic abuse.

Several members of staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton told The Argus they have been sent emails which contained horrific threats to an employee.

They also celebrated the Holocaust and included rape and acid attack threats. The first said “no one cares about the optics” of excluding Jewish members of staff from the department.

It was sent on October 17, from an untraceable address, and told the member of staff: “Please stay away from the ward, life is better without you and most people hope they never see you again.” 

It arrived days before an online petition called on the hospital trust not to train Israeli doctors following the conflict in Gaza. The petition was entitled "University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust should not make its doctors train an Israeli doctor". It was set up by "UnitedForPalestine". There is no evidence such a group exists.

Police have launched an investigation into both the emails and the petition.

The NHS trust which runs the hospital reported them as a hate crime. It is offering additional support to staff and putting in place extra security.

The first email contained threats to pour acid on the staff member's body and called them "worse than dirt".

The second threatening email was sent to several members of staff yesterday. It was forwarded to The Argus by one of the people blind-copied into it.

It was again targeted at one person and said: "Any plans for the weekend? Are you ready for the next surprise?"

It included further threats, inciting the person to harm themself.

On Wednesday, trust chief executive George Findlay sent an internal email questioning the authenticity of the petition, which purported to represent the views of a group of doctors. He said its allegations were “baseless and categorically untrue”.

He said the trust “utterly condemns any attack or mistreatment of people based on their religion, ethnicity, colour, or sexuality".

A spokesman for the trust said: “We immediately reported this as a hate crime and the police are currently investigating to determine who is behind this anonymous, abhorrent, and vile attack. 

“We are providing support to colleagues affected and doing everything we can to support the police with their enquiries.” 

A force spokesman said: “Sussex Police is reviewing an online post which was subsequently removed from a petition website.

“Officers from our Neighbourhood Policing Team and the force’s Hate Crime lead have been informed.

“We will be working in partnership with management at the relevant NHS trust while the matter is reviewed.”