Telling NHS Staff Not To Tweet About ‘Political Stuff’ Like ‘Not Having PPE’ Is Disgraceful

We all know that in every large organisation you have the heroes who are working on the front line and then you have the non-heroes in top management who care only about their reputations; even during a national emergency. 

Although the above might sound like a sweeping generalisation, I want to point out that, yes, there are some excellent people in top management positions. 

The organisation we are talking about here is, of course, the NHS. 

Not more than a few minutes goes by without me thinking about the truly remarkable men and women who are putting their own lives on the line to try and save the lives of strangers. 

These people, the men and women on the front line of the NHS, are the best of the best. They are a credit to the nation, and they are a credit to humanity. 

They are going to work, knowing that they could either run out of PPE or they could be given PPE that would not even protect them from someone’s bad breath. 

And yet, they continue to try and save lives because they have the heart of a lion and the compassion of a saint. 

Some of the men and women who are on the front line of the NHS have taken to social media to voice their concerns about not have enough or the right PPE. 

In a so-called democracy, this ability to share genuine concerns is vital as it allows the relevant authorities to be held to account. 

So, you can imagine our surprise when we heard that one NHS Trust had ‘advised’ its staff not to tweet about ‘political issues’ and that they had somehow come to the conclusion that not having PPE, or not having the right PPE, is a ‘political issue’. 

Staff at the Norfolk & Suffolk mental health trust were issue guidance on “COVID-19 suggested subjects for tweets” in a recent staff newsletter. 

Apparently, acceptable tweets included praising staff for their hard work, volunteering to move departments, working over the weekend and keeping people safe. 

Unacceptable tweets included those which contained any reference to ‘political issues’. 

However, the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust faced backlash over their definition of a “political issue” after an extract from the newsletter was posted to Twitter by the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk.

The virus does not care which way you swing when it comes to your political affiliations. It will try its hardest to take the life of anyone it infects. 

So when the men and women who we are asking to put their lives on the line to save the lives of our family and friends tell us that they do not have the right PPE – or no PPE at all – then any attempt to silence them by pretending that such concerns are ‘political’ is a disgrace. 

If they had the right PPE, then it would not be an issue. But they do not. And the only way we know that they don’t is because they are telling us about it. 

If there is one thing I cannot stand when it comes to how people in high positions conduct themselves, then it’s the ‘service to self’ attitude that emanates from egotistical managers who care more about their reputation than they do about the truly remarkable men and women who are risk their lives to save the lives of others. 

In response to the tidal wave of criticism that flooded the media desks at the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust, a spokesperson said:

“In response to requests for guidance from our staff who are new to social media, we produced guidelines to help support them. 

“Our staff are keen to reassure the public and celebrate the work of their colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic, and these suggestions were intended to support them to do that.

“We actively encourage our staff to use social media within the remit of our social media policy. It was never the intention to deter staff from giving their own views on these issues”.

It would seem that some people still think we live in the pre-social media ages where the traditional media would ignore individual concerns. 

But this is the 21st century, and now every single voice matters; especially when it is the voice of someone who is risking their own lives to save the life of a stranger. 

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