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'Log on to social media to reach service users'


When we posted a story on about the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s guidance on social media usage, many net-savvy nurses suggested this was an invasion of their privacy and yet another stick to beat them with, while a few countered that it was just common sense in the light of recent abuses of social networking sites.

In our survey of nearly 1,000 nurses, only 21% felt using the sites could be beneficial professionally. The survey also shows nurses have concerns that social media is being used inappropriately by their colleagues, but, used appropriately Twitter, Facebook et al can be used effectively to engage with service users who perhaps won’t attend meetings or appointments. NHS Direct uses social media to share information, ask for feedback or help, and to immediately handle complaints or correct rumours spreading among staff or the public.

Many big businesses, such as Dell, Ford and Starbucks, all use Twitter as part of their customer service strategy.

People’s expectations are higher than they were 10 years ago - of their local restaurant, their business hotel and yes, rightly or wrongly, of your hospital, GP surgery or clinic.

The lessons being learnt by big businesses about social media are equally applicable to you. And, it’s often easier, more effective and cheaper to use these sites rather than traditional methods. For example, a tweet about NHS Direct’s mental health and symptom checker was retweeted 49 times, giving it potential exposure to more than 32,000 people. And when the service launched its mobile app, one retweet alone (by Martha Lane-Fox) reached more than 62,500 Twitter accounts in one day.

Twitter can’t diagnose, prescribe or care as well as you can, but if communicating about your service and disseminating information and advice is nursing, it seems to me, that social media offer the perfect nursing tool.

Jenni Middleton, editor, Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed


Readers' comments (8)


    Here we go again Totally unprofessional, Nurses should not go on Facebook moaning

    When will we learn that Nurses are vocational people. sometimes an unprofessional person slips the net and this is regrettable. We need to start employing people who want to care for people instead of people who need employment. I am sorry that i have had to make this comment . But lets be real here. Please please let us go back a few years and bring back nursing.

    the computer has its place but please beware.

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  • those in agreement with the risks of social media follow the guidelines or may not use this form of communication at all anyway.

    those who don't may ignore the guidelines and are probably not prepared to alter their habits until they encounter a problem.

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  • above, correction should read in second sentence 'those who don't agree....'

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  • actually, the article is about how social media can be positive and useful, I think...

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  • Jenni Middleton

    Thank you Mary G, you're right. The article is about the positive side of this mass form of communication. There is a lot to be said for social media used correctly and imaginatively. It is definitely not all bad.

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  • 'Twitter can’t diagnose, prescribe or care as well as you can'
    however facebook apparently can, NHSD in talks with facebook for online care & advice!

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  • Natalie Jewell

    Maybe some nurses cannot see the place for it in their work because of their client group.

    My client group is school aged children. While we are not using social media in my work place at the moment I am interested in thinking about its potential. My clients are not acutely sick. Some of them have chronic conditions and need advice on how to look after themselves day to day. Some of them need to be given information on how to keep their healthy selves healthy.

    My work is public health and my client group generally love social networking. I can't always get them to come to my drop-in but I bet I could stir up a bit of interest online.

    It's also my place to ensure they are sensible online (Every Child Matters - Staying Safe) - how better to show them than to be a good role model?

    School nursing doesn't have the profile it deserves and is in drastic need of modernising. This is one possible way forward.

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  • Natalie Jewell

    I disagree with Sandra - yes it is a vocation on some level, you have to be passionate about nursing. But when people keep saying it is not a profession it holds us back. We can be a profession - we need to tighten up our recruitment, tighten up our disciplinary procedures, tighten up our professionalism and above all be proud of moving nursing into the 21st century.

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