Southend nurse subjected to ‘coordinated attack’ after PPE tweet

Police are investigating after a Southend nurse said she has been made the subject of a “coordinated attack” for tweeting about protective equipment.

Southend A&E nurse Kate Sheehan tweeted health secretary Matt Hancock about her eight-year-old daughter’s fears she could die at work while treating coronavirus patients due to the lack of PPE.

But she soon came under fire from people posting an image of a past tweet in which she appeared to celebrate Prime Minister Boris Johnson being taken into intensive care, but she insisted the tweet was a “complete fabrication”.

Others attacked her for what they described as using her daughter as “propaganda” and for allegedly stealing hospital protective equipment to give it away.

Essex Police have said that they are now investigating the attacks as “malicious communication”.

Ms Sheehan, who has closed her Twitter account, said: “It is a fake tweet. I was advised to come off Twitter because of the horrific messages I was getting and over Facebook someone sent me that tweet.

“I asked all my friends if they had seen that tweet from me and it is just not there – this is completely fabricated.

“This has been personal, vile and malicious. People have told me things like I should be imprisoned or that I should have my children removed.”

She explained her tweet about PPE was never specifically about her place of work but about the situation for frontline workers everywhere who must go to work in fear due to the government’s delays in properly supplying protective equipment.

The issue is not that hospital do not have protective equipment but that not every hospital worker has access to the highest level of protection.

It is her belief that the attacks are a result of her being transparent about supporting the Labour Party and those making the accusations are from the “far-right”.

The accusation that she stole PPE she says is also unfounded.

The homemade visors, facemasks and aprons she was seen giving out to the One Love Soup Kitchen, which supports Southend’s homeless, were part of a donation from a community project to support frontline workers.

In a statement, the One Love Soup Kitchen team confirmed this.

They said: “One Love, our team of volunteers and supporters promote nothing but integrity and passion in every element of work we carry out and under no circumstances was any PPE stolen from the NHS”.

They added that it was a “false allegation” against “a local nurse and supporter within our local community”.

A spokesperson from Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We can confirm that no equipment at Southend Hospital has been stolen.

“All stock is stored securely with restricted access.”

Labour Councillor Matt Dent, called it “incredibly concerning” that when a nurse is putting her life on the line to help victims of the virus others are trying to “silence her for speaking out of fear for herself and her colleagues”.

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Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter