Bosses deny 'gagging' hospital staff

HEALTH bosses today denied claims that staff were being gagged and had been ordered not to talk to the press.

Richard Cornwell

HEALTH bosses today denied claims that staff were being gagged and had been ordered not to talk to the press.

A member of the team at Felixstowe Community Hospital - who did not want to be named - said letters had been sent out saying they should not speak to journalists.

But officials at NHS Suffolk said it was not true that letters had been sent to all staff, though senior managers had been sent reminders at the end of last year of the guidance over how to deal with media inquiries.

John Such, chief operating officer at Suffolk Community Healthcare, said: “We want our staff to be ambassadors for the excellent healthcare services they provide to patients across the county.

“We have procedures in place which are designed to make sure we give a consistent, accurate response to the media and sent a letter to line managers in November repeating the guidance on how that should happen.”

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Roy Gray, chairman of the Save Our Felixstowe Hospitals Action Group, said he was pleased staff had not been gagged.

“I think it is very important that staff can feel free to air their opinions,” he said.

“I have to say the staff at Felixstowe have been hugely supportive of the health service for which they work - many have actively campaigned to keep services for the town and have only spoken out when they feel services are threatened and could be lost.”

He said they had not been irresponsible and only sought to highlight matters which had been of concern to them as residents and the patients they look after.

Tell us your concerns over the health service in Suffolk - write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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