NHS bosses are trying to ‘gag’ staff during the general election, GMB Union revealed yesterday, warning that health service workers are being told they must not take part in ‘debates, activities and events that may be politically controversial’.
A letter has been sent to workers from Ambulance and NHS Trusts across the country.
The NHS has been ravaged by brutal Tory cuts since 2010, with many staff saying the service is close to breaking point.
The GMB said yesterday that banning them from speaking out over Tory cuts amounts to gagging free speech.
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: ‘For nearly a decade, our members have witnessed first-hand sustained damage to the NHS at the hands of a Conservative government – while they’ve suffered a decade of real terms pay cuts.
‘Our health service is at breaking point thanks to years of Tory mistreatment. And it’s at risk of being sold out further as Boris Johnson prepares to offer it up on a plate to Donald Trump and fails to rule out further privatisation.
‘Now they are being told they can’t talk about it in case it’s politically sensitive. Our members are being gagged from revealing to the public the real threat posed by the Tories to our NHS.
‘The voices of our dedicated public service workers must be allowed to be heard.’
Meanwhile, the number of NHS patients being sent to have surgery in private hospitals has nearly trebled since 2010.
The NHS paid for 613,833 patients to have operations in private hospitals last year, compared to 214,967 in 2009-10 – a 185% rise in nine years.
The sharp rise in the NHS purchasing private operations has coincided with a huge rise in the waiting-list for ‘non-urgent’ operations – now standing at 4.6 million.
Labour shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth said yesterday: ‘A decade of cutting over 15,000 beds and failures to recruit staff under the Tories is forcing more and more patients out of the public NHS into poor quality private hospitals.
‘The failing health secretary has allowed waiting lists to balloon with patients left in pain and distress.
‘A bonanza for the private sector is the consequence exposing (Tory Health Secretary) Matt Hancock’s famous claim of “no privatisation on his watch” as utterly hollow.’
Ashworth added: ‘In 2015 Tory ministers promised us 5,000 extra GPs but in fact we have lost 1,600 GPs under the Tories.’