Hospital Staff Must Not Talk Politics Before Election

Doctors and nurses observe period of pre-election purdah

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Hammersmith Hospital has forbidden its staff from getting involved in political discussions with patients, in the run-up to the Mayoral and GLA elections.

Staff at the Du Cane Road site, as well as those at neighbouring Queen Charlotte’s, have been told the hospitals are observing a period of purdah until the elections on 1st May.

During this period, staff are not allowed to talk politics with patients, or arrange voter registrations or postal voting for them. They have also been told not to agree to be a proxy voter for any patient.

“Campaign literature, including posters, cannot be distributed on Trust property,” said an announcement in the hospital newspaper this week.

Both Hammersmith and Queen Charlotte’s Hospitals are part of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

“At all times, the Trust is politically neutral and does not endorse any political party,” the announcement said.

Purdah is an Urdu word meaning “curtain” and refers to the practice of segregating men from women.

In politics, purdah describes the pre-election period when ministers and civil servants are not allowed to make any politically sensitive announcements.

This stops the ruling party making attractive policy pronouncements just before an election, to boost its chances at the polls.

Yasmine Estaphanos

April 29, 2008