Doctors have been warned not to speak about concerns there is not enough protective equipment for frontline NHS staff, it has been claimed.
Medics are said to have been ‘gagged’ by health bosses, with some claiming managers have threatened their careers.
Doctors’ Association UK said that NHS staff ‘should not be gagged’ when speaking about personal protective equipment (PPE) after global shortages mean health workers battling coronavirus in UK hospitals are going without.
Today the British Medical Association called the shortages of PPE ‘life-threatening’ despite government assurances that 170 million masks and almost 10 million items of cleaning equipment are being dispatched to NHS trusts.
Doctors and nurses still ‘face the daunting prospect of having to consider treating patients without adequate protection’, the BMA has said.
Medics who have spoken out about the shortages include some having their kit ‘hidden’ by desperate staff and others saying they feel it is ‘inevitable’ they will become infected with Covid-19.
But according to The Independent, many doctors have been warned not to speak to the media at all during the outbreak.
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Staff have been warned not to make any comments about PPE 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.
Dr Rinesh Parmar, chairman of the Doctors’ Association UK – a campaign group for medics – said it had received a number of concerns from doctors.
He said: ‘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.’
An NHS spokeswoman said: ‘Once a major incidents occurs it is vital that the public receive fast, authoritative, open, clear and consistent information from their NHS, which is why in line with long-standing protocols, official communications are therefore always co-ordinated nationally.
‘But staff continue to speak in a personal, trade union or professional body capacity, and it is self-evident from print and broadcast media coverage throughout this incident that staff are able and do in fact speak freely.’
On Sunday, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the government ‘cannot and should not ask people to be on the frontline without the right protective equipment’.
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