Exclusive National mourning guidelines imposed after Prince Phillip’s death prevented NHS England from sending out clinical information about the use of a drug to GPs, Pulse has learned.
On Monday (12 April) NHS officials updated guidance on the use of inhaled budesonide for some over-50s recovering from Covid, stating it can be prescribed on a ‘case-by-case’ basis, but is not recommended for ‘routine use’, and published this on its website.
However, BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey sent an email to GP leaders on Monday asking them to disseminate the guidance to GPs, on the grounds that Government-wide communication restrictions meant NHS England could not contact them as it normally would, Pulse understands.
For the eight days of nation mourning, lasting until 17 April, the Cabinet Office has told public bodies, including NHS England, to limit their public messaging to only ‘operational communication’.
NHS England told Pulse that it has been sending out operational guidance in this period.
In an email to BMA members and LMCs sent on Monday, and seen by Pulse, Dr Vautrey said: ‘As a result of a Government protocol relating to limits on messages from national bodies this week in advance of the funeral of Prince Phillip, NHSEI have asked if we can circulate advice they would normally have sent to practices about a reported trial which you may have already seen in the news.
‘Please can you therefore circulate the message below to your local practices.’
NHS England sent out a primary care bulletin yesterday evening (14) April, stating that a Therapeutic Alert also went out through the web-based Central Alerting System (CAS) on Monday in relation to the updated budesonide guidance.
According to a Science Media Centre article, a number of public bodies have been asked to pause media and social media communications this week, excluding ‘the most urgent operational and legal activity’, which means ‘social media posts, new web content (e.g. news stories) and newsletters’.
National mourning guidance, posted on the Government website, states that ‘all public services and any services involved in the Government response to Covid-19 will continue as usual throughout the mourning period’ adding that ‘members of the public will be able to access information and services online as necessary’.
An NHS spokesperson said: ‘As evidenced by information sent on Monday to pharmacists about contributing to the vaccination programme, and guidance issued on Tuesday to the system about phase two of the programme, operational communications with general practice and the rest of the NHS has continued, in line with Cabinet Office guidelines.’
Pulse has approached the Cabinet Office for comment.