Society tells Matt Hancock 'You misled the clinical community'

Published: 22 April 2020 Society tells Matt Hancock 'You misled the clinical community'

The SoR has sent a second letter to the Secretary of State for Health, telling him that "it is difficult to believe anything you or your officials say."

Signed by Dean Rogers, the Society's director of industrial strategy and member relations, the letter says, "We will never compromise our members’ safety and so you can be certain we will continue to support any of our members who refuse to work without the appropriate PPE, as identified in credible health and safety risk assessments."

The follow-up to the first letter sent on 27 March asking what is being done to alleviate the "chronic shortage" of PPE and Covid-19 tests, in the latest correspondence Dean accuses Matt Hancock of misleading "the clinical community and the wider public. There have been attempts to justify such lies as being politically expedient - the need to reassure the nation being prioritised over the truth.

"When writing to you previously we warned that this was a dangerous strategy, particularly when it is essential your government retains the confidence and trust of the staff on the frontline through a prolonged campaign against this virus. Such lies are corrosive and make it difficult to believe anything you or your officials say to reassure our members."

Dean continues, "Last weekend was a new low for our members. With our members still missing vital PPE to protect themselves, patients and their wider communities, any pretence of blurring the truth to protect national morale was missing from the cynical moves to:

  • Water down the HSE guidance for staff, as seen by the re-classification of Covid-19
  • Divert blame on to staff deemed to be using too much PPE
  • Attempting to divide staff and differentiate between parts of the 'frontline', inferring that some health professionals (eg ICU nurses) are more worthy than others (radiographers)
  • Encourage staff to recycle single use PPE, without adequate testing or evidence that this was safe
  • Tell health professionals to make do with the PPE they had even if it’s not meeting normal standards because something must be better than nothing."

Dean points out that "knowingly to send soldiers into a battle zone without the appropriate protective clothing leading to unnecessary, additional injuries and likely fatalities during the height of a military campaign" would lead to calls for a public inquiry and legal challenges from victims' families. Yet this is the exact position in which you and your senior officials have put our members with minimum acknowledgement. We write to tell you to prepare for the same outcomes."

The letter concludes, "We expect the spin to stop and hope a more honest approach can re-establish the trust and help facilitate some honest reflection when the appropriate inquiries open in the future. In doing so, we will be properly honouring all of our NHS 'frontline'."

Read Dean's letter in full.