Tory Health Secretary says she will ban NHS staff wearing Palestinian flags

Palestine Solidarity Campaign called the announcement 'shameful'

Victoria Atkins

The Health Secretary Victoria Atkins has said that the Tories will ban NHS staff from wearing Palestinian flags if they win the election. Atkins made the comments in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle.

She said that the move would be part of policies to tackle antisemitism, saying she was: “determined to ensure that Jewish people feel as safe in our healthcare system as they should in the rest of society”.

Later in the interview, she went on to say: “I’ve already been in conversations with NHS England about how we can ensure that uniforms are free political and flags, and this goes across the board [sic]. 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.”

The announcement has been condemned by Palestine solidarity campaigners. Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign told Left Foot Forward that Atkins’ comments amounted to ‘anti-Palestinian racism’.

He said: “Equating the showing of the flag of Palestine with antisemitism is a form of anti Palestinian racism. Such statements betray a contempt for genuine anti racism by conflating antisemitism with legitimate symbols of Palestinian nationhood, support for the implementation of international law and respect for human rights. Her comments, although unsurprising for a minister of this Government, are nonetheless shameful.”

Green Party deputy leader Zack Polanski also criticised the Health Secretary’s comments. He told Left Foot Forward: “This Conservative Government is determined to ban everything from rainbow lanyards to people expressing solidarity with a country where thousands of its citizens have been massacred.

“This is all part of their wider “war on woke” because after decades of failure – this is now all they have.

“The Tories should stop bothering front line staff and let them get on with their jobs.”

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

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