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Social media blurs the boundaries of our work and private life

  • Comments (14)

The NMC’s decision to suspend Allison Marie Hopton for comments she posted on Facebook will make sobering reading for some nurses. As one person commented on the story “I know of several people who are sailing close to the wind with this kind of thing even though my trust recently gave out written info about behaviours expected”.

It is nice to think our work and private life are separate but social media blurs the boundaries and - as the NMC rightly points out - if you identify yourself as a nurse your behaviour has to uphold the standards of the profession.

I often see anonymous comments on our own website that make me anxious about how others will view our profession - not only in terms of the language used but the attitude nurses sometimes adopt towards each other.

Yet nurses are under pressure and need space to voice their anxieties and frustrations. Ms Hopton said at a hearing with her employer that “Facebook is where people vent. Nurses are human”, but as the NMC observed she failed to appreciate the gravity of her actions.

The immediacy of social media has so many benefits but it also enables us to post in anger. We all need to hesitate before we press send.

It is easy to avoid getting into problems. The NMC is very clear about the standards it expects from nurses who choose to identify themselves on social media, and is very clear about the penalty for failing to comply.

If we want to communicate with each other as professionals we need to ensure we do it in a measured and appropriate way. Undoubtedly nurses need forums to discuss their anxieties and our website allows you to do this anonymously. I would love to know how nurses are supported in their trusts?

We have to accept that when people know you are a nurse they expect you to behave in a certain way - and that means we are never truly off duty.

  • Comments (14)

Readers' comments (14)

  • Anonymous

    i dont mention my proffession on facebook,as its a need to know basis.family and friends know but thats it..also what i do off duty is my affair[.though i am not in the habit of bieng a law breaker.]

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  • Anonymous

    Oh goodness me, it's very simple - just don't talk about work on social networks end of - the word social gives it away - work is work and social life is social life. Do that and you have no need to fear.

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  • Anonymous

    Something similar happened to me however, my facebook page could only be seen by my friends, I did not identify that I was a nurse or the place I worked. A matron who had bullied me for 2 years (documented via OH / doctor / counselling / HR / and mediation) Gained access to my facebook page. I think she probably bullied someone. Than chose to interpret things and articles I had put on as being unprofessional. I was called in before a night shift, told it was to do with a disciplinary issue, yet I was denied a basic human right, a witness / union rep. Apparently I was disrespect at the meeting as I asked what am I supposed to do now....Told by the director of nursing to get downstairs and do your shift....I was completely knocked sideways....only 12 weeks following the sudden death of my mother, 33 years in the NHS unblemished record. (Had reported bullying and raised concerns about staffing and patient care ) Yes I did speak to "friend" when I went down to ITU,I was called the next day by my union to be told I was to
    come in and be suspended. I was then escorted from the premises like a criminal....I wont go through the disciplinary hearing, the lies or the falsified evidence. After being off sick for 7 months I asked for the MARS and was told I would get that very day....I have left the NHS I will probably never go back into that environment....I knew I would leave when I put in an official grievance about bullying, and was told by the trust it would not be investigated as I been off sick to long. I suggest that unless people see the evidence with their own eyes, don't believe anything....At the most vulnerable time of my life the NHS, a place I had worked for 33 years, isolated me from everything I loved and then told people not to contact me....Oh they told me to go to counselling, as soon as I left the trust I never heard anything from anyone in authority.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 12-Sep-2013 4:25 pm

    what an awful way to treat you and then expect you to do a shift. Unfortunately I am not surprised. What a kangaroo court.

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  • Anonymous

    I LOVE NHS THEY SAVED MY LIFE. PAID MY BURSARY TO GO TO UNIVERSITY AND DO THE NURSING THE MOST JOB I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN PASSIONATE ABOUT. I WISH NHS CAN GO BACK TO 2005 AND SPONSOR ME TO GO TO UNIVERSITY AGAIN AND FURTHER STUDIES IN PATHOLOGY(PATHWAY TO BECOMING A CORONER).

    WELL DONE AT LEAST YOU SERVED YOUR COMMUNITY FOR 33 YEARS.ONE DAY THE LORD WILL REWARD YOU. I HAVE LEARNT A LOT FROM YOUR STORY AND IT'S INSPIRING TO SEE SOME PEOPLE THAT ARE STILL FIGHTING AGAINST THE ODDS ,AND ARE BOLD AS YOU ARE. I KNOW THIS WAS NOT EASY TO SHARE YOUR STORY.

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  • Anonymous

    Doesn't your computing device have lower case?

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  • michael stone

    tinkerbell | 12-Sep-2013 7:14 pm

    Tink, just catching up from earlier: your beautifully clear and concise comment about pain-relief dosages during terminal care, has been 'let into the wild' at:

    http://www.dignityincare.org.uk/Discuss_and_debate/Discussion_forum/?forumID=45&obj=viewThread&threadID=680

    Although I'm never sure if those multi-line links will work, or not !

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  • tinkerbell

    Thanks Mike. The link worked.

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  • michael stone

    tinkerbell | 13-Sep-2013 7:51 pm

    By the way, Tink, your first sentence (it is really the final sentence I'm most interested in) of

    'all I can say is that if I am in excruciating pain without any hope of making a recovery as I have a terminal illness then I would like as much pain relief as I can have to relieve my pain even if it kills me'

    COULD be taken as pro assisted suicide - as I was pointing out to George K, assisted suicide is currently illegal, but that isn't the same thing as 'not providing adequate pain relief, because doing so might hasten death - and we (the clinicians) are nervous about the law around that' ?

    And I know this is off-topic, before anyone points that out to me: this is 'chit chat' but it is 'NT chit chat'.

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  • tinkerbell

    michael stone | 14-Sep-2013 9:30 am

    Just so we are CRYSTAL CLEAR my comments were NOT regarding pro assisted suicide and I most certainly hope they will not be taken as such otherwise I would be most angry.

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