Frontline doctors have told The Independent they have been gagged from speaking out about shortages of protective equipment as they treat coronavirus patients – with some claiming managers have threatened their careers. Staff have been warned not to make any comments about shortages on social media, as well as avoiding talking to journalists, while NHS England has taken over the media operations for many NHS hospitals and staff.
The Independent has seen a series of emails and messages warning staff not to speak to the media during the coronavirus outbreak. One GP has been barred from working in a community hospital in Ludlow after making comments about the lack of equipment, while another in London said they were told to remove protective equipment they had purchased themselves.
NHS England confirmed it was controlling media communications, which it said was part of its national emergency incident planning to ensure the public received “clear and consistent information”. A spokesperson said some NHS staff had already spoken out about equipment concerns.
Dr Rinesh Parmar, chairman of the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) said it had received a number of concerns from doctors. He added: “We are seeing draconian measures used to gag doctors and nurses on the frontline. The NHS will only benefit if we learn from each other’s experience. If we are unable to share our learning then patients will be put at risk.
“We must protect the frontline. NHS staff should not be gagged.” The DAUK said they had received examples from across the country including the East of England, Yorkshire, Essex and Lincolnshire
Excerpt from The Independent