NHS Employers, the health service’s human resources group, has published advice to managers encouraging staff use of social media.
The publication acknowledges the pressures on human resources staff to control negative online coverage – but concludes that an “active and honest social media presence” will improve the health service.
This advice for open engagement ranges across the service, from Department of Health managers to clinicians and administrative staff with personal accounts.
However, it still recognises that many NHS contracts explicitly forbid “bringing the organisation into disrepute”.
The issue of free speech within the NHS is of particular relevance following the NHS United Lincolnshire scandal – where two whistle blowers were forced from their posts after warning of care failings to rival Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust.
Both managers subsequently spoke to the media, one of them breaking a gagging order to do so.