Advisory body NHS Employers backs use of social media

NHS Employers, the support and advisory service for employers in the health service, has called on health service workers to embrace social media to communicate with the public.

Outreach: Manchester NHS uses Pinterest to engage with patients
Outreach: Manchester NHS uses Pinterest to engage with patients

The body has released a guide, called HR and Social Media in the NHS, which lays out the reasons why social media platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs, are becoming increasingly important to the way hospitals, trusts and staff communicate with patients and each other.

Targeting HR departments, NHS Employers argues that social media are a vital source of support for quality patient care. This is because they are increasingly used by patients to understand healthcare choices and can help to quickly determine their views on the quality of services.

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, told PRWeek he believed a ‘tipping point’ had been reached where people across the NHS were ‘recognising that the positive benefits of social media far outweigh their risks’.

Royles said previously NHS organisations had been ‘conservative’ in their policies surrounding the use of social media, for fear of ‘breaches in confidentiality’.

He argued that while these parameters should not be breached and communication should remain professional, potentially restrictive policies on writing blogs or sharing information on Facebook should be reviewed to leverage the benefits of  digital communication.

Royles cited NHS Manchester as an example of how to positively engage the local community through Twitter and other social media.

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