Medics and other staff have been banned from drinking tea or coffee in public areas at three Leicester hospitals.
The ban follows complaints that having a hot drink in front of patients gives the impression staff are slacking.
It applies to outpatient clinic reception areas at Leicester Royal Infirmary, Glenfield Gneral Hospital and Leicester General Hospital.
Staff were informed of the ban in an e-mail from Michelle Scowen, matron for clinical support and imaging, who said the move followed complaints from patients and employees.
She said of the sight of staff enjoying a cup of tea or coffee: “Clearly this activity has given the wrong impression to staff and the public that clinic staff are not working as hard as they might be.
“Members of the public are frustrated by long waiting times during clinics and for appointments and are inflamed by seeing members of staff enjoying hot and cold drinks at the reception desks.
“Our priority must be to ensure that we are not compromising our high standards by presenting a poor impression to the public and staff who visit our departments.”
A hospital spokesman said last night that cold drinks, especially water, were not included in the ban: “I suppose there was some inconsistency. The truth is, it’s just a hot drinks ban.
“It’s important they [staff] are kept hydrated. Having a cup of tea is more relaxing, shall we say, whereas a bottle of water is purely for rehydration. It’s just that feeling.”
The ban, which was introduced on September 30, has infuriated some staff. A clinic co-ordinator told the Leicester Mercury: “What will it be next, that we won’t be able to go to the toilet?"
Zuffar Haq, a health campaigner, told the newspaper: “This is a ridiculous and Draconian measure.”
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