Using social media as an NHS employee

Sharon Gregory summarises some of the latest advice on how to use social media responsibly and professionally.

NHS Employers has recently issued a guide for new starters joining the NHS entitled New to the NHS? Your guide to using social media in the NHS. Although all HR practitioners will be familiar with the principles and advice provided in this document it provides a good opportunity to refresh our understanding of the Department of Health position on the use of social media as an NHS employee. Here is a summary of the some key points and principles:

• All staff should read their employer’s policy covering social media at work
• Healthcare professionals must also ensure they are familiar with their profession’s social media guidance available via their professional body
• Staff are encouraged to consider maintaining separate personal and professional social media profiles and to ensure they have the appropriate privacy settings on their accounts
• The NHS encourages a permissive approach to using social media in the NHS in order to encourage creativity and networking amongst staff
• Staff are encouraged to share their professional views and knowledge via online networks but are also encouraged to follow the principle that ‘if you wouldn’t say it aloud in the canteen, don’t post it online.’
• Employers’ Communications Teams can answer any questions staff may have
• What comes up when you google search your name? Staff are encouraged to regularly review what appears in a google search.

NHS Employers provides guidance specifically for HR professionals as well as guidance on promoting staff engagement initiatives through the use of social media. Further information is available at www.nhsemployers.org/socialmedia

Sharon Gregory for Croner
www.sgtd.co.uk