Health Secretary suggests NHS staff face Palestine flag ban

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Health Secretary suggests NHS staff face Palestine flag ban

'Antisemitism is a specific problem that needs a specific set of solutions' says Victoria Atkins


Doctors and nurses face a ban on wearing Palestine flag badges, the Health Secretary has said.

Victoria Atkins claimed NHS trust executives share her concerns about flags and other political symbols on lanyards and uniforms “across the board”.

In an interview with The Jewish Chronicle, Ms Atkins said: “I’ve already been in conversations with NHS England about how we can ensure that uniforms are free (of) political (symbols) and flags, and this goes across the board.

“Our hospitals, surgeries and other healthcare settings should not be places where individuals express their political views, but environments that enable people simply to get health care quickly and safely.

“Working with NHS England, I know they share these concerns, as do NHS trust executives — and indeed, the overwhelming majority of people who work in the NHS.”

Ms Atkins told the newspaper that “antisemitism is a specific problem that needs a specific set of solutions”.


The Jewish Chronicle reported a ban on Palestine flags is something that the Cabinet minister is “determined to develop”.

The announcement comes several weeks after Cabinet Minister Esther McVey mooted a ban on rainbow lanyards across Whitehall.

She said in May that civil servants should wear “standard design” lanyards, a statement which could indicate that the colourway used to express support for the LGBT+ community or as a marker of LGBT+ identity should not be used.

In a written statement before the Commons, Ms McVey said: “The guidance makes clear that civil servants must not allow their personal political views to determine their actions or any advice they give related to diversity and inclusion in any part of their employment.”

Responding to Ms Atkins’s comments, Sir Keir Starmer said she should be focused on running the NHS.

He told reporters in Portsmouth: “We’ve got nearly eight million on the waiting list, that’s a record high, and it’s shocking, and we’ve got the lowest satisfaction in the NHS.

“So what I’d say to the Health Secretary is you start concentrating on the waiting lists and on the satisfaction in the NHS to make sure those millions of people who desperately need care get it.”

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