The Nursing and Midwifery Council in the UK is consulting in a second round on ‘The Code: standards, performance and ethics for nurses and midwives’. This round of consultation follows a 6 month consultation on revalidation and links a revised code to the revalidation process.
The Code is the foundation of good nursing and midwifery practice, and a key tool in safeguarding the health and wellbeing of the public.
Since the last drafting of the Code social media has become an increasingly prevalent part of modern society; not just for nurses but also for the public they serve. As such, I am grateful that there is a reference to social media in the re-drafted code – it is important that the regulator and the professions recognise the emerging need for digital professionalism, that is the need for principles of personal and professional nursing practice to be applied in a digital space.
You can see the draft code here
This blog post contains the consultation feedback I will be offering in relation to point 114 relating to social media.
First of all it is important to point out that the code is also supported by NMC guidelines relating to social media that can be found here:
This is the current draft wording in The Code:
‘114. You must ensure that you use social networking sites and other forms of electronic communication responsibly and in-line with our guidance, in particular by not referring to employers, colleagues or past or current people you have cared for’ (page 19)
Of course the use of social media is also governed by other parts of the code, for example:
• Maintain clear professional boundaries (page 7)
• Uphold the reputation of your profession (page 8)
• Be open and honest and act with integrity (page 8)
• You must respect people’s right to confidentiality (page 10)
The main issue that concerns me relating to point 114, and what I consider to be responsible professional digital behaviours, is the draft wording ‘not referring to employers’. I do not see how this is needed as part of the code. Social media platforms often allow professionals to include details of their employer in a profile statement and indeed LinkedIn (a widely used social media platform) allows the use of an on-line CV where past and previous employment is cited. If nurses and midwives are also following the other parts of the code detailed above then the addition of ‘employer’ in this list seems overly restrictive. I do not understand why nurses and midwives are unable, should they wish to do so, give details of where they work, in an open and transparent society.
I would propose that more appropriate wording could be:
‘You must ensure that you use social networking sites and other forms of electronic communication responsibly and in-line with our guidance, in particular by respecting the confidence of colleagues or past or current people you have cared for’
I would also recommend a subsequent review of the guidelines for use of social media by nurses who are skilled and understand the medium to take account of the emerging use of digital media in supporting patients, for example school nurses who are using Facebook to support young people and the use of social media for providing peer connections for patients with long term conditions.
If you would like to make your voice heard as part of the consultation – whether you be a member of the public or a professional – you can do so here:
These is my personal consultation feedback, as a registrant, and may not be the view of my employer.