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15 May, 2020 13:44

‘Stop causing a fuss’: NHS workers scolded and warned off speaking out about PPE shortages

‘Stop causing a fuss’: NHS workers scolded and warned off speaking out about PPE shortages

Senior NHS staff are attempting to prevent doctors from speaking publicly about shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and more than 100 healthcare workers have approached WhistleblowersUK since early March, reports say.

While the Department of Health has publicly declared that no medical workers should be prevented from speaking out, there is significant evidence that doctors have been put under pressure from NHS higher-ups to refrain from airing their concerns online, the BBC has reported.

One doctor, who spoke to BBC Newsnight anonymously, claimed he was hauled up before an intimidating panel of managers who were “feeding” him government-approved lines, declaring there were no shortages and warning him to “stop causing a fuss” over nothing. 

Another medic was told they would gain a “reputation” and would find it difficult to be hired by another trust if they continued to tell “negative stories” about the hospital.

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It’s the latest in a long line of PPE-related scandals plaguing the national health service since the Covid-19 outbreak, which has now claimed over 33,600 lives in the UK – more than any other country in Europe.

Indeed, according to WhistleblowersUK, many of those raising issues of concern have been warned that their contracts will not be renewed when their term is up. 

Another whistleblower organization, Compassion in Care, reported in late April that five care home workers had lost their jobs after speaking up about staffing levels and insufficient PPE.

Meanwhile, a survey by The Doctors’ Association UK found that almost 50 percent of workers had been told not to mention their worries on social media. Likewise, almost 50 percent said they had been warned not to speak to the press.

The latest details of efforts to muzzle hospital workers comes days after thousands of doctors initiated legal action to force the government to launch an inquiry into PPE shortages for frontline workers, following the deaths of almost 200 healthcare workers from Covid-19.

The Doctors’ Association UK has complained that the UK’s pandemic stockpile lacked basic items like gowns and eye protection, while other equipment was out of date.

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In April, some hospital staff in England were told to wear plastic aprons as proper protective gowns had run out. The gowns scandal deepened after the government purchased 40,000 of the protective garments, all of which failed to meet UK standards.

The UK government has fought off scandal after scandal regarding PPE in recent weeks, as it was even revealed that some staff were buying their own sub-standard protective gear from DIY stores and taking infected clothes home to wash them.

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