DAUK in the BMJ: Silencing NHS staff who speak out is sheer stupidity

In an article in the BMJ, David Oliver examines the issue raised by DAUK of medics being told not to speak out about concerns on social media or mainstream media.

“On 31 March the media reported on a dossier from the Doctors’ Association UK detailing numerous instances of medical and nursing staff being warned, disciplined, threatened, monitored, and gagged for speaking out on social or mainstream media. Their concerns included a lack of personal protective equipment and testing for covid-19—putting them, their families, and their patients at risk. The staff also highlighted what they saw as inconsistent and unconvincing guidance from their employers and national authorities.

There’s a long history of NHS executives and managers being leant on to prevent them speaking out publicly about other issues, such as serious overcrowding and bed pressures in winter. Speaking to the Guardian’s Denis Campbell about the Doctors’ Association report, an NHS England spokesperson emphasised the importance of consistent, clear, centralised official communication during a major national incident but said that individual staff members remained free to speak out in a personal capacity”.

“Threatening, disciplining, demoralising, or suspending the very staff we need most to get us through the next few months is a spectacular own goal and reputationally disastrous. It must stop”.