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Covid-19: doctors are warned not to go public about PPE shortages

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m1592 (Published 21 April 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m1592

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  1. Clare Dyer
  1. The BMJ

As hospitals run out of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare staff fighting the covid-19 pandemic, doctors report that trusts and NHS England are clamping down on their attempts to go public about the situation in mainstream news outlets or on social media.

After some trusts warned that they might have no fluid repellent gowns left, NHS England said staff might need to use alternatives, such as plastic aprons with coveralls.1

More than 50 healthcare workers have died from covid-19 and the lobbying group Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) has set up an app, www.nhsppe.com, for doctors anonymously to report their concerns about shortages of gowns and masks to protect them from infection.

But many are also reporting attempts to stop them speaking to the media about their fears. One consultant wrote of “a general email from the trust, then personal advice, that social media is being monitored and to be careful.”

A junior doctor mentioned “an email saying we should not be posting ‘inappropriate’ social media comments or posts regarding the state of PPE.” Another wrote, “We are emailed daily to avoid speaking to anyone in the press or social …

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