Don’t mention PPE on social media, hospital staff warned

The Norfolk Resilience Forum has set up a database to help with supply of PPE. Picture: Getty Images

The Norfolk Resilience Forum has set up a database to help with supply of PPE. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Medics have been warned to not mention one of the biggest issues of the coronavirus pandemic - the lack of protective equipment for frontline staff.

Some Norfolk and Norwich University hospital (NNUH) staff were told in an email on Monday to avoid talking about personal protective equipment (PPE) or the NNUH on social media after a “number of inappropriate” messages were brought to the attention of hospital bosses.

The hospital said the email was just a reminder and its social media policy had not changed.

Last week the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust also told its staff to not mention PPE publicly, describing it a “political issue”.Despite shipping millions of items of PPE - such as gloves, gowns and face masks - to hospitals and care homes, problems providing enough of it has caused awkward questions for the government.

Unions and staff say lives are being put at risk. One doctor, who warned the prime minister about a lack of PPE, has died.A British Medical Association poll last week of 6,000 doctors found half reported shortages of gowns or no supply at all.

And NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, has warned some will run out of gowns.

This newspaper reported staff fears about a lack of PPE in March, including a doctor who appealed on Facebook for a diving mask to protect them. Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis said: “Health and care workers have been contacting me for weeks asking me not to inadvertently reveal their identities to their employers when we’ve been following up on their concerns, which are overwhelmingly about PPE.

“I am in absolutely no doubt that, just to do their jobs, public-facing workers are routinely being expected to put their health and that of their loved ones in jeopardy because of the shortage of protective equipment.

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“What are these workers meant to do? Just shut up about it and wait to get ill or die?”

An NNUH spokesman said: “The Trust is providing daily updates to all staff during the Covid-19 pandemic to keep them informed on the latest developments.

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“Some of these include reminders on existing policies on... social media policy, which have not changed during the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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