NHSWell done to NHS Employers, a kind of über-HR department for the whole health service, who have produced a sensible and pleasantly concise briefing on social media in the NHS. It’s key points are:

  • Social media offers great opportunities for organisations and individuals to listen and have conversations with the people they wish to influence.
  • There is a need to highlight the guidance on offer to staff and train them in what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour online.
  • The next generation of NHS staff will never have known a world without the internet or mobile phones. How the NHS embraces their use of social media for the benefits of staff and patients will be crucial in creating a sustainable NHS.
  • We trust our staff with patients’ lives, so why don’t we trust them with social media?

Large organisations struggle with social media in part because they still haven’t shaken off the command-and-control thinking that, sadly, leads to them not trusting the people they employ. In HR and IT this usually leads to the kind of social media lockdown that would make the Chinese Communist Party proud.

Things are thawing though. Last year we helped the NHS Institute put together a new social media policy and strategy and there was a clear emphasis on enabling rather than disabling use. The policy “presumed competence” (shock!) and “trusted staff to use good judgement” (horror!). Crucially we followed this up with social media training that developed the skills and, like the briefing, ran through scenarios to develop judgement. All things that wise HR people will be doing.