The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has today issued guidance to its members on the use of social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
The NMC have estimated that there are approximately 355,000 registered nurses and midwives on Facebook. Following a number of its members being struck off after improper use of the networks, the council recommends that nurses and midwives consider the distinction between their personal and professional dealings online.
“The NMC is committed to public protection and ensuring nurses and midwives make the welfare of those in their care their first priority at all times. I would advise nurses and midwives to exercise caution when using social networking sites. They could risk their registration if they share sensitive information, make inappropriate comments, or befriend patients online.” says Chief Executive Professor Dickon Weir-Hughes.
The NMC advice on social networking includes the following:
- Never put confidential or sensitive information on social networking sites, especially if it identifies patients.
- Whether or not you identify your work role online, be aware that all your activity online can reflect on your professional life.
- Don’t accept friend requests from patients, or use social networks to build or pursue relationships with patients or clients, even if they are no longer in your care.
- Do not post pictures that have patients in them.
- Keep personal and professional social networking as separate as possible.
- Consider everything you post as public, even in ‘private’ Facebook discussions.
- Social networking sites should not be used for whistle-blowing or raising concerns – instead follow the NMC’s guidance on raising and escalating concerns.
- Don’t discuss work online, and especially avoid talking about patients or colleagues.
- Don’t simply accept the preset privacy and sharing settings on Facebook, think carefully about what you want to share with different kinds of friends.
- Remember you can take action if you find you are the target of abuse; there are options available for blocking people from interacting with you.
To see the full guidance, please use the link below:
Whilst the NMC’s guidance does contain many sensible suggestions for the use of social networking sites; sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn can still be useful tools for the nursing community if used in a prudent and professional manner.