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Using social media positively

27 September 2018

In 2016 I told you about my New Year’s resolution to start using social media. Half the world now has a social media account in some form, and we know it has advantages. It can be an extremely useful way to speak directly to people you would never otherwise have access to, learning and listening, discussing and developing new ideas.

We have also seen some very positive benefits for patients through social media. The #HelloMyNameIs campaign for example, launched by Dr Kate Granger MBE as she fought and sadly lost a battle with cancer, asks all health professionals to introduce themselves by name before speaking with those in their care. This simple campaign has been taken up widely across the NHS and beyond, winning awards for its compassion and effectiveness for patients. 
Unfortunately, as I said in my 2016 post, despite the many and varying positives of social media, there are some decidedly unsocial trends flourishing. It seems online forums are used too often to bully, ridicule or embarrass, rather than inform and enlighten. Perhaps because we can upload our thoughts at the touch of a few buttons, we do so unthinkingly, without fully considering the consequences. It can give a megaphone to words that should only be said in private, if at all.

For me personally, social media was not something I wanted to continue with after my first dalliance. However, we do use social media regularly and positively at the GPhC. For instance, we tweet from our Council meetings to keep you updated, respond to questions and queries and provide links to our latest consultations and events through our social media channels.

We know that many of you are also using social media in both your personal and professional lives. We would encourage everyone to look again at the guidance we published on Demonstrating professionalism online in 2016,  which offers practical advice to help you use social media successfully and to continue to meet the standards we set:

Do:

  • act professionally
  • treat people with respect
  • maintain confidentiality and privacy at all times
  • maintain proper professional boundaries
  • think before you post, privacy settings do not mean that something will remain private and a statement that these are your own views means little in practice

Don’t:

  • bully, harass or intimidate
  • unlawfully discriminate
  • post inappropriate comments
  • share information about patients or their care
  • get drawn into negative, unconstructive discussions

We thought it may also be useful to have the perspective of someone working in the health world who themselves uses social media successfully within their role.  And so in this edition’s ‘focus on’ article, we asked Shaun Lintern, the Patient Safety Correspondent at the Health Service Journal and a regular user of social media, to give his advice on how to get the best of social media, and steer away from that less inclusive side. 
In this edition we are also outlining some important information about revalidation - so do take a look, and we are highlighting an exciting opportunity for three registrants to become members of our Council. We know it’s so easy to think this type of position isn’t for you, but believe me when I say that you should genuinely consider it. To help you decide, two of our current Council members have outlined what they think of the role and their experiences so far. We want to hear from both pharmacy technicians and pharmacists across Great Britain, so if you are looking for a new challenge and have the skills and experiences outlined on our website, we look forward to seeing your application.