South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has said team members have faced ‘significant abuse’ over an ‘irresponsible’ Facebook post which claims that a ‘mass killing’ of pigeons is supposedly set to take place tomorrow.
A Scas spokesperson said: ‘We would like to address the issue of inaccurate and misleading social media posts circulating regarding pest control management at Scas.
‘This specifically relates to a suggestion of pigeon culling supposedly due to take place on one of our sites tomorrow (January 6) which is categorically untrue.
‘There are no plans for any such activity to take place tomorrow.
‘Due to a very large increase in the volume of pigeons at the Portsmouth Patient Transport Service base, we have been working closely with experts in bird control and advisory bodies such as Natural England to explore the legal options available to us to reduce the level of fouling and nesting within the station.
‘The associated health and safety risks posed to our staff are significant, along with the difficulties of ensuring that it does not adversely affect the cleanliness and condition of our patient transport vehicles, though we also take our commitment to the protection of wildlife very seriously too – hence our extensive preparatory work in this area.
‘These discussions are still ongoing and the process involves a number of possible measures to address the problem.
‘We will be advised by the external experts we are working with as to what steps need to be taken in line with all regulations and guidance.
‘The option we are considering involves humanely trapping (in cages with space, food and water) and releasing the birds with netting then installed as a preventative measure to stop them returning.’
The Facebook post asked the public to contact specific NHS staff to ‘demand they cancel the killing’ of ‘hundreds of birds’.
The Scas spokesperson continued: ‘As a result of the misleading social media posts – one of which included a stock image of dead pigeons for ‘illustration purposes’ and is in no way associated with the trust – our staff have received significant abuse via email and phone calls from members of the public.
‘This is unacceptable and such activity online is irresponsible given the increase in unnecessary communication it has caused at a time of significant pressure across the trust.
‘We are also concerned about threats to protest at our site which could impede our ability to carry out our day-to-day activities for patients.
‘We will not tolerate any form of abuse to our staff under any circumstances and the police have been informed.
‘We urge everyone to take note of what we have said and cease contacting various staff and the wider organisation about issues which are not true.
‘It is standard practice for us to ensure ongoing management of pest control in the interests of the health and safety of our staff, patients and visitors.
‘Anyone with any queries or concerns about the conduct and actions taken by pest control specialists can also enquire directly with the associated regulatory bodies for further information.’
A campaign has been launched by several wildlife and animal groups, including South London Hunt Saboteurs and the Foundation for Feathered Friends. They have tried to enlist the support of celebrities such as Ricky Gervais and Chris Packham.