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Backlash as NHS staff told: ‘Avoid tweeting about political issues like PPE’

PUBLISHED: 18:29 18 April 2020 | UPDATED: 19:46 18 April 2020

NSFT is facing backlash after recommending staff avoid tweeting about 'political issues' such as PPE Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

NSFT is facing backlash after recommending staff avoid tweeting about 'political issues' such as PPE Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The mental health trust for Suffolk and Norfolk is facing backlash after telling staff to avoid tweeting about the controversial shortage of PPE during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a staff newsletter circulated last night, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust recommended employees follow social media guidance titled ‘Covid-19 suggested subjects for tweets’.

Under topics to ‘avoid’, trust bosses said: “Commenting on political issues, such as PPE, testing and exit strategies.”

Campaigners criticised the message for describing PPE and testing as “political issues” and said staff feel like they are being “gagged”.

MORE: All the latest coronavirus news where you live

“PPE, Covid-19 testing and an exit strategy from the pandemic are vital clinical matters, not ‘political’ subjects for suppression to save the government from embarrassment,” said a spokesman for the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Campaigners also feel the move means “genuine front line ‘heroes’ cannot say what they really think”.

A tweet from the group referencing the guidance has sparked a debate on Twitter.

MORE: Care homes ‘doing everything they can in upsetting times’

In the newsletter, bosses recommended staff ‘do post tweets’ praising staff for their hard work, volunteering to move departments, working over the weekend and keeping people safe.

NSFT’s chief nurse Diane Hull did not directly reference the social media guidance issued last night in her response to this newspaper.

But she said NSFT does have good stocks of PPE, adding: “Our staff have been absolutely amazing throughout these incredibly testing times, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them.

“Our service users, their carers and our staff are our number one priority and I have encouraged staff to raise directly with me any concerns they may have about PPE or their own or service users’ safety.

“Testing for members of staff is available which means those that test negative for the virus are able to continue providing excellent care to our service users.”

Several NHS staff across health organisations in Suffolk have shared their concerns about national shortages of PPE and testing issues.

A care home manager from Ipswich said she tripled her spend on PPE in a week due to fears she wouldn’t get it from the national supply chain.

This Ipswich Hospital worker slammed government guidance on PPE, warning of a lack of protection from coronavirus victims.

Yet reassurance has been given by hospital chiefs, who are aware of national shortages, but have recruited PPE champions and are working hard to ensure there is adequate PPE for workers at all times.

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