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MP condemns health trust move to silence doctors

December 12, 2005 5:35 PM

David Howarth, MP for Cambridge, has today condemned moves to silence doctors in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health Trust.

The move followed Wednesday's Cambridge Evening News feature exposing the serious consequences of cutting mental health services in Cambridge. Leaders of the Mental Health Trust moved quickly, banning all Trust doctors from speaking to the press about the proposed cuts to mental health services.

David commented:

"Staff have been told that they cannot speak directly to the media for fear that they will be taken to be speaking officially on behalf of the Trust. That is a misjudgement. The Trust should not be afraid of the personal views of doctors and nurses becoming known to the public.

"The letter written by doctors to the Cambridge Evening News was a legitimate exercise of the right of free speech by a group of people who know far more about the issue than anyone else. The public should not be denied the benefit of knowing the views of the staff. I do not think that there is any real risk that the public will confuse what staff say in their own personal capacity with the official views of the Trust.

"The Trust should withdraw its letter and say that staff are permitted to speak to the media as long as they make it clear that they are expressing their personal views and are not speaking as representatives of the Trust itself."