The LMC receives queries from practices on how to manage social media issues. The following provides guidance on what to consider together with links to good practice and further guidance, so that practices can develop their own social media policies. However, please get in touch if you require further guidance.
See our dedicated page for communicating with your patients here.
GPs and their staff are increasingly facing abuse from patients on social media. It is as unacceptable to abuse practices online as it is face-to-face, so you must understand how to protect yourself.
See here to read the BMA's guidance on dealing with abuse of practice staff on social media from patients.
The BMA Guidance highlights:
- Practical steps to deal with online abuse and harassment
- Reporting abuse to the platform provider
- Guidance on refusing to treat abusive patients
- How and when to involve the police and criminal sanctions
You can also find BMA guidance for ethics of social media use here.
Social Media and Your Staff
ACAS provides guidance on how employers can develop their own policies and procedures to consider the impact of social media on:
- Social media and recruitment
- Social media, discipline, and grievances
- Social media and bullying
- Social media, defamation, data protection and privacy
- Social media and how to develop a policy
The LMC HR team can also offer support and guidance. Contact the HR team here.
Social Media & Your Patients
The use of social media has advantages and disadvantages. Social media can be a good way to promote your practice and get important health messages across to patients. However, it is inevitable that you may from time to time receive a complaint or negative comments and you will need to protect the privacy of staff and patients.
Top tips for social media in your practice include:
- Have a patient social media policy and keep it under review
- Make sure your policy cross references with your complaints procedure
- Be mindful about which social media platform you choose – it needs to be right for your practice and it must be managed
- Have a staff social media policy
- Publish a code of conduct on your practice website
- Don’t post anything that you aren’t happy to appear elsewhere and that you wouldn’t be prepared to say face to face.
NHS Choices - Responding to Negative Feedback
Procedure when a practice receives notification of negative comments posted on the NHS Choices website:
- Practices are notified of a comment relating to them following the publication of the comment.
- An alert is sent to a named recipient at the practice in question
Practices then have the following options:
- Post a reply, to put across the practice’s views and deal with any issues raised. This will appear immediately below the original comment.
- We urge practices to reply to negative comments very carefully as this can act as a very useful defence against an unfair comment, as well as enhancing the appearance of the practice in the eyes of the public. Keep it professional and factual rather than aggressive/defensive.
- Report the comment to the website moderator as unsuitable.
NHS Choices have a 'Comments Policy' on their website which states that should a comment be flagged by a practice as unsuitable, then this will alert their moderators to take down the comment, consider it, and then either remove it or re-instate it as they deem appropriate.
The following NHS Choices guidance may assist practices in managing any comments they receive:
- Managing Patient Feedback that includes some best practice tips near the end of the webpage.