Healthcare professionals are being silenced and threatened with disciplinary action for speaking out about their work during the coronavirus outbreak, the Guardian can reveal.
Many NHS staff are increasingly concerned that their ability to share stories about their work is being restricted by a clampdown on speaking out publicly.
It follows reports of doctors and nurses being gagged by hospitals and other NHS bodies from speaking out about widespread shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE). Tactics have included threatening emails, the possibility of disciplinary action, and some people even being sent home from work.
While there could be some logic to hospitals wanting to stop scaremongering when communications departments are overloaded with work at a busy time, many staff feel they are being blocked from highlighting their work during the pandemic.
Workers who have spoken to the Guardian say they fear being disciplined. Several professionals said they worried about losing their jobs. Examples include an email signed by the chief executive of one NHS trust forbidding all staff from talking to the media, and incidents where staff suspect emails and social media accounts are being monitored. Requests by staff to communications departments to permit them to talk to the press have been turned down, leaving staff anxious and fearful for their jobs during the worst global public health crisis of this century.