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Facebook could “improve” patient care

23 January 2013

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“Open and responsible” use of social media may improve patient care in the NHS, according to NHS Employers. 
The organisation said use of social media like Facebook and Twitter could help make it easier for NHS staff to hear patient’s concerns about quality of care.
Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers said: “The NHS more than ever wants to promote a culture where people can raise issues and be heard. 
“Social media can be an important barometer of emerging issues, opinions and concerns, and we have a duty to listen and get involved.”
British Medical Association (BMA) deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey uses Twitter to talk about healthcare policy, among other things. 
He said: “I think social media can be helpful as one way of communicating with people.
“However I think NHS workers should be very careful to respect patient confidentiality and always be mindful that they are making statements in a public arena.”
Dr Vautrey added that NHS workers should never say anything on Twitter or Facebook that they would not say to a “crowd of people on a public stage”. 
However Royles said: “I know some people have concerns about confidentially and reputational issues. 
“In the NHS it isn’t social media itself that’s the issue, but the need for greatly clarity on professional behaviour and confidentiality combined with a more permissive approach in organisational policies encouraging staff to use social media safely.”