back to article NHS smacks down hundreds of staffers for dodgy use of social media, messaging apps

More than a thousand NHS staffers have been slapped down for their use of social media and apps since 2013, with some even posting about patients. According to figures released under Freedom of Information laws, at least 65 workers in the UK's National Health Service have lost their jobs because of the incidents. The Times …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For context, there are ~1.5million NHS employees in the UK.

  2. andy 103
    IT Angle

    Meanwhile

    "Staff have argued that such apps are now crucial for patient care"

    Because the I.T. systems they have in place aren't fit for purpose.

    Which leads to frustration.

    Which leads to them calling Johnny Patient a #fanny on Twitter.

    It's quite damning when a free service like Whatsapp or FB Messenger does a better job at getting information from A to B than a system that cost tax payers millions of pounds**. It's almost like the people involved specifying it - also getting paid millions - know precisely fuck all about what's required, how to implement it, and generally what to do.

    ** See also: the vast array of companies who use "spreadsheets by email" as a method to send data around.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile

      "It's quite damning when a free service like Whatsapp or FB Messenger does a better job at getting information from A to B than a system that cost tax payers millions of pounds"

      Maybe they had their fax machines taken away.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile

      Indeed. They need a stand alone (not public like Whatsapp, etc.) that is fit for purpose. If they have a stand alone app that no one can use, then users go to the next best thing.

  3. Valeyard

    deeper than that

    I know a nurse and she's on some website where they share either academically genuinely interesting or just funny (foreign object anal insertions for the most part) images, x-rays etc. apparently it's pretty popular among NHS staff too.

    I can't see how that passes the confidentiality test

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: deeper than that

      Does it give patient details, or say things like "name age gender time date" and the like? If it does, that is a definite fail.

      Its about identifiability. Can the patient be identified? Can anyone else? If it is just an unidentifiable scan of someones **** with a root vegetable inserted and any text blacked out, the health professional might not loose their job on first offense. Bit is this a wise thing to do? Definitely not!

      1. hplasm
        Headmaster

        Re: deeper than that

        "... the health professional might not loose their job on first offense...."

        Unless they are using Slack?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: deeper than that

        Its about identifiability. Can the patient be identified?

        Presumably that depends on scars, birthmarks, moles and tattoos.

        Moral of the story: Don't have your arse tatted if you've going to shove anything up it that might not be readily retrieved.

        My father in law was a doctor many decades ago, and after a lot of drinks we always get round to the account of how he had to perform a "manual extraction" of a teapot from a lady's nether regions, so the practice is nothing new, even if there's more ways of sharing.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: deeper than that

          Ewwww..... a teapot? There's a mental image requiring several gallons of mind bleach.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: deeper than that

          "so the practice is nothing new, even if there's more ways of sharing."

          There was and no doubt still is a certain amount of sharing such info in the formal medical literature - or at least in the medico-legal literature where the results ended up in the coroner's court.

          1. Valeyard

            Re: deeper than that

            with pictures of xrays, scans etc. though, do you trust everyone sharing to censor the patient data and various identifiers?

      3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: deeper than that

        A root vegetable is one thing, the legendary Maltese Falcon is another! :-)

    2. IsJustabloke
      Facepalm

      Re: deeper than that

      "I can't see how that passes the confidentiality test"

      don't really see how that's an issue unless they're posting things like "Look at this picture of Valeyard with a wotsit up his bum!" lolz

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow

    Terrible that people would talk about people private medical matters on a public forum. Any job I have ever taken DPA is always considered a priority and seems like this could be addressed with proper awareness training.

    On a weird note. My local GP surgery has a notice up saying that anyone discussing the practice (or staff) on Facebook or Twitter does so under threat of expulsion from their register.

    Although my hate of FB and Twitter is strong I have felt on occassion that I should maybe speak to the practice manager (or local trust) and point why this is a potentially perilous way to dictate who can access healthcare.

    I would love to choke on my ironing if I foundout one of the numbnuts in the article was from my surgery

    1. SkippyBing

      Re: Wow

      'On a weird note. My local GP surgery has a notice up saying that anyone discussing the practice (or staff) on Facebook or Twitter does so under threat of expulsion from their register.'

      Genuine question, is that even legal? What about discussing the practice with my friends while sat in a public space?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: [twitface discussion] under threat of expulsion from their register

        Obviously they'd rather any slightly disgruntled patient makes a formal complaint every single time about every single thing, rather than have them just grumbling ineffectually to their friends. :-)

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: [twitface discussion] under threat of expulsion from their register

          "Obviously they'd rather any slightly disgruntled patient makes a formal complaint every single time about every single thing, rather than have them just grumbling ineffectually to their friends."

          Or they'd rather have ineffectual complaints than be roasted on social media which seems to be about the only thing that has an effect these days.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Wow

        Thats my point. I'm pretty sure it isn't unless some sort of threat was made. In which case he should clearly involve the police.

        This wasn't what was upsetting him though just general bad mouthing of the service which in some cases was wholly justified.

        Many times this notice has tempted me on the way into the surgery but he's such a horrible little man I was waiting until his bosses caught wind and educated him accordingly.

        Land of free speech? - not if you want to see a doctor in my locale.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      There is a difference between sharing patient medical data and nirses posting "we had a bloke come in with an .... shoved up his ...." to their freinds. If doctors had done this on the golf course nobody would care.

      I suspect managers have been criticised on the platforms and so the revenge has come down,

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Wow

        If doctors had done this on the golf course nobody would care.

        The key here is not that it is a doctor, nor that is it a golf course, but that is was a spoken joke that has no permanent internet record to come back and bite you (or anyone else) in 1 day, month, year or decade.

        Today's generation of social media users seem not to think even as far as who sees a post immediately, let alone the long term.

        1. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Wow

          Today's generation of social media users seem not to think even as far as who sees a post immediately, let alone the long term.

          Ah yes, it's all the fault of those meddling kids. Incidentally, is this your lawn I'm standing on?

  5. Geekpride
    Pint

    Policing private life?

    Disclosing patient data is unacceptable and staff should be disciplined for that, but I'm concerned that the NHS thinks it has the right to police its employees private life. Why discipline staff for gossiping about drinking? I work Monday to Friday, so would they seriously say I can't put anything up about going out on Friday or Saturday? I'll be sober and ready to work on Monday, it doesn't affect my ability to do my job.

    Yes, discipline staff for revealing stuff that should be confidential, but don't discipline them for being humans and having a normal social life. That's not acceptable.

    1. IsJustabloke
      Stop

      Re: Policing private life?

      I got the impression that these were groups setup specifically for use as a communications tool for work rather than Nurse Gladys' private facebook page

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Policing private life?

        "I got the impression that these were groups setup specifically for use as a communications tool for work"

        Yes. These are common as muck. Remember clinical staff aren't like the rest of us office bound nerds. They don't have desks, they don't have computers, they probably can't even remember their corporate email login. What they do all have is Facebook and a smartphone, so a Facebook page becomes the official corporate comms tool.

        Daft, but that's how it is in wards up and down the country because there's simply no alternative.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Policing private life?

      "Yes, discipline staff for revealing stuff that should be confidential, but don't discipline them for being humans and having a normal social life. That's not acceptable."

      That very much depends on how public the forum is and how identifiable the users and/or their place of work is.

      Most contracts have something along the lines of "bringing the organisation into disrepute" which very much can constrain what you do or say when outside the workplace.

  6. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Remember that that the NHS has two categories of medical staff:

    (1) Those too stupid to be doctors and

    (2) Those too arrogant to be anything else

    and that it's the least competent from both these groups who move into NHS management.

    1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

      Having worked in the NHS for 35+ years I have met:

      1. A not inconsiderable number of stupid doctors

      2. More than a few arrogant staffers who were not doctors ( my own staff group included as well as IT..)

      Also, there are more than doctors, nurses and 'management' in the NHS.

      The NHS needs *good professional* managers so clinicians stop being poor managers - I know, I worked for many years in a Trust proud of its "clinician management" and bullying wasn't in it.

      Rant over

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The NHS needs *good professional* managers so clinicians stop being poor managers - I know, I worked for many years in a Trust proud of its "clinician management" and bullying wasn't in it.

        x1000 this!

        Mrs AC has been an NHS lifer (still serving time), and I blanch whenever I hear about the appalling incompetence of the NHS in the area of "general management", or the shocking levels of bullying and harassment.

        There's fairly few good managers in the world, and there's no specific function they come from. They can be from the expert operational area, or they can be generalists, or from another function. So whether doctor, nurse or "other", you can be a briliant manager, or you can be an appalling one. Sadly numbers favour the latter.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          So whether doctor, nurse or "other", you can be a briliant manager, or you can be an appalling one.

          One of the underlying causes of good whatevers becoming appalling managers is that only management is considered worth the higher pay grades. The result is that competent whatevers get promoted to management irrespective of whether they have any talent for it. As a result the work is given to those too inexperienced or incompetent to be promoted to management and managed by those who weren't appointed for managerial ability but could have done the work well.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "The NHS needs *good professional* managers so clinicians stop being poor managers"

        Sounds suspiciously like middle management to me. Can't be having any of that. The NHS must spend its money on only doctors and nurses and drugs. But not too many drugs.

  7. Charlie Clark Silver badge
    Flame

    … FFS

    More than a thousand NHS staffers

    The NHS has employees not staffers. The linguistic overspill from US election coverage is really annoying! (Electoral campaigns staffed by staffers. The term is used because they are often unpaid volunteers without employment contracts.

    I'm really going to annoy myself by, like, imagining the article being read, like, by someone frying their vowels, like, a lot.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: … FFS

      So 'I'm really going to annoy myself by, like, imagining the article being read, like, by someone frying their vowels, like, a lot.

      FTFY

    2. eamonn_gaffey

      Re: … FFS

      We need to be worried by a lot more US 'overspill' than election language, although that is the tip of an insidious iceberg. If the mob lead by Johnson/Rees-Mogg get their way, after they have screwed us with Brexit, the NHS will be re-born a la US privatised/medical insurance style. NHS 'staffers' pissing about on social media will be the least of our worries.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bother?

    Soon (if Zuck has his way) all our medical data WILL be social media.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/05/facebook-building-8-explored-data-sharing-agreement-with-hospitals.html

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