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Social Media Policy & Guidance 

Post Holder Responsible for Policy:
Communications Manager
Directorate Responsible for Policy:
Chief Executive's Directorate
Contact Details:

Salisbury District Hospital

01722 336262

Date Written:
December 2014
Date Revised:
Approved By:

Approved by Operational Management Board

Ratified by Joint Board of Directors

Date Approved:

Approved 27th January 2015

Ratified 18th February 2015

Next Due for Revision:
31st March 2019
Date Policy Becomes Live:
18th February 2015

Version Information

Version No. Author Review Date Description of Changes
Communications Manager/Information Governance Officer
December 2014
New Policy

Table Of Contents

Policy Statement
Social Networking Using Trust Owned Equipment
Trust Approved Social Media Pages That Promote or Support Trust Services
Social Networking Using Privately Owner Equipment
Implementation Plan
Equality Analysis
Privacy Impact Assessment

Policy Statement


1.1. This policy is intended to help staff make appropriate decisions about the use of social media such as blogs, wikis, social networking websites, podcasts, forums, message boards, or comments on web-articles such as, but not limited to, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.

1.2. This policy outlines the standards we require staff to observe when using social media in both a personal and professional capacity. The policy will also detail the circumstances in which we will monitor staff use of social media and the action we will take in respect of breaches of this policy.

1.3. This policy complements other Trust policies such as, but not limited to, The Acceptable Use of Information Policy, The Data Protection Confidentiality and Disclosure Policy and The Acceptable use of Email & SMS Text Messages Policy and the Acceptable Use of Internet Policy.

1.4. This policy does not form part of any contract of employment and it may be amended at any time following approval from the responsible board.




2.1. This policy covers all individuals working at all levels and grades, including senior managers, officers, directors, governors, employees, consultants, contractors, trainees, homeworkers, part-time and fixed-term employees, casual and agency staff and volunteers (collectively referred to as staff in this policy).

2.2. All staff are expected to comply with this policy at all times to protect the privacy, confidentiality, and interests of the Trust and our services, employees, partners, customers, and patients.

2.3  Breach of this policy may be dealt with under the Trust Disciplinary Policy and in serious cases, may be treated as gross misconduct leading to summary dismissal.




3.1. The Communications Manager has overall responsibility for the effective operation of this policy. Questions regarding the content or application of this policy should be directed to the Communications Manager or Business Relations Manager in his absence.

3.2. The Communications Manager is responsible for reviewing the operation of this policy and making recommendations for changes to minimise risks to Trust operations.

3.3. All staff are responsible for their own compliance with this policy and for ensuring that it is consistently applied. All staff should ensure that they take the time to read and understand it. Any breach of this policy must be reported to the line manager or Communications Manager or Business Relations Manager in his absence.

3.4. The Communications Manager will maintain a register of all Trust approved social media sites and pages which promote the services and goods of the Trust. The Web Development Steering Group will approve the rationale for the creation of said sites or pages and will indentify a named individual who will have direct responsibility for the content and management of them.

This named individual will ensure that all content posted or published via the site on behalf of the Trust is compliant with this policy. This named individual will also maintain the security of access passwords, usernames etc, to ensure that non compliant posts are not made in the name of the Trust.

3.5. If a member of staff is concerned about something they read on a social media site, it is their professional responsibility to alert their line manager, and complete an adverse incident report.

The Trust does not routinely monitor social media sites for evidence of staff activity.  However, if it is brought to the attention of the Trust that inappropriate information, images or comments have been posted, then the allegation will be investigated.


Social Networking Using Trust Owned Equipment


4.1. It is the Trust’s policy that staff are not to access or contribute to social media sites using Trust-owned equipment, unless authorised by the Trust (see Trust approved social media pages that promote or support Trust services in section 5).

Internet access to social media sites from Trust-owned equipment is blocked. If a member of staff accesses any other, unblocked, social media site using Trust-owned equipment, this would be in breach of this policy and may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal, depending on the severity of the incident.  Refer to the Trust’s Disciplinary Policy for further information.

Internet access to social media sites is not blocked in limited areas where it is being used as a Trust corporate communication method and/or where specific individuals or departments have been given authorised access.


Trust Approved Social Media Pages That Promote or Support Trust Services


5.1. We recognise the importance of the internet in shaping public thinking about the Trust and our services, employees, partners and patients. We also recognise the importance of our staff joining in and helping shape health service conversation and direction through appropriate interaction in social media. Therefore the Trust will support the use of social media for these purposes, provided the standards and procedures below are followed.

When a Trust department or service is considering the creation of a social media page or site for the promotion, support, or publication of goods, services or functions of the Trust, they must first consult with the Communications Manager.

The person proposing the introduction of this social media presence must submit to the Web Development Steering Group a written plan detailing the reason and need for this project, the methods which will be used to manage the site, how the security of the site will be maintained and the expected life span of the site. This plan must also include a Privacy Impact Assessment, which can be found in the Trust Privacy Impact Assessment Policy.

* In order to provide flexibility and maintain competitiveness in the commercial field, an exception to this process may be made in specific cases relating to the promotion of corporate commercial activities that are agreed by, and carried out under the direction of, either the Chief Executive or Director of Finance. For instance, the promotion of the My Trusty range of products.

These documents will be reviewed and retained by the Communications Manager and only after receipt of their approval by the Web Development Steering Group, can the site or page be created.

5.2. When the need for a Trust approved social media site or page no longer exists, for instance following the closure of a service or initiative, the site must be removed from publication.

5.3. Social media sites which have not followed the above approval process must not use the Trust name, logo, or any registered trademarks, or purport to have sanction or approval of the Trust.

5.4. When posting to an approved Trust site or page, extreme care must be taken when making comment about the goods and/or services provided by a third party, especially when providing a hyperlink/link to another site. It is the responsibility of the individual identified in 3.4. to ensure that the link is valid, and the content of the site and the goods or services provided by the third party will not bring the Trust into disrepute.

5.5. Where an image, photograph, video or audio recording of any individual is to be published via a Trust approved social media page or site, the consent of the individual must be obtained by the individual identified in 3.4.

5.6. General guidance for the contents of posts or publications via Trust approved social media sites or pages include:

  • Do not upload, post, forward or post a link to any abusive, obscene, discriminatory, harassing, derogatory or defamatory content.
  • Any member of staff who feels that they have been harassed or bullied, or are offended by material posted or uploaded by a colleague onto a social media website should inform their line manager who will contact either the Communications Manager or the Information Governance department.
  • Never disclose commercially sensitive, anti-competitive, private or confidential information. If you are unsure whether the information you wish to share falls within one of these categories, you should discuss this with your line manager. Advice can be sought from the Communications Manager or Information Governance Department.
  • Do not upload, post or forward any content belonging to a third party unless you have that third party's consent.
  • It is acceptable to quote a small excerpt from an article. However, if you think an excerpt is too big, it probably is. Quote accurately, include references and when in doubt, link, don't copy.
  • Before you include a link to a third party website, check that any terms and conditions of that website permit you to link to it. All links must be done so that it is clear to the user that they have moved to the third party's website.
  • When making use of any social media platform, you must read and comply with its terms of use.
  • Do not post, upload, forward or post a link to chain mail, junk mail, cartoons, jokes or gossip.
  • Be honest and open, but be mindful of the impact your contribution might make to people’s perceptions of us as an organisation. If you make a mistake in a contribution, be prompt in admitting and correcting it.
  • You are personally responsible for content you publish into social media tools – be aware that what you publish will be public for many years.
  • Don't escalate heated discussions. Try to be conciliatory, respectful and quote facts to lower the temperature and correct misrepresentations. Always aim to get sensitive personal sensitive situations off line.  Never contribute to a discussion if you are angry or upset, return to it later when you can contribute in a calm and rational manner.
  • If you feel even slightly uneasy about something you are about to publish, then you shouldn’t do it. If in doubt, always discuss it with a member of the Web Development Group first.
  • Don’t discuss colleagues, patients, competitors, customers or suppliers without their prior approval.
  • Always consider others’ privacy and avoid discussing topics that may be inflammatory e.g. politics and religion.
  • Avoid publishing your contact details where they can be accessed and used widely by people you did not intend to see them, and never publish anyone else's contact details.
  • The use of social media as the sole means of contact or communication with any given group must be avoided as this may discriminate against those who do not have access to such a facility.
  • If you notice any content posted on social media about us (whether complimentary or
  • critical) please report it to your line manager or the Communications Manager or Business Relations Manager in their absence.



Social Networking Using Privately Owner Equipment


6.1 The Trust recognises that staff may want to access or contribute to social media sites using their own equipment outside their hours of work and in their own personal time. This includes authorised breaks.

Staff are responsible and personally liable for any comments, images and information they may post. This includes posting information, images or making comments that are:

  • speculative, derogatory, discriminatory, could bring the Trust into disrepute; could impact negatively on the Trust’s reputation; could cause embarrassment to the Trust, staff, patients or the public
  • sensitive or confidential information (e.g. any personal information about patients or staff, or any confidential corporate information – refer to the Code of Conduct for Employees in respect of Confidentiality).
  • information that could potentially identify a patient (e.g. a patient’s name, address, postcode, ID numbers, photograph, voice recording, rare condition, celebrity status etc).
  • about patients or other staff which could cause offence, even if their names are not mentioned.
  • images that are discriminatory or could amount to bullying or harassment.
  • recognisable signs or pictures relating to the Trust, or any pictures of staff or patients without their explicit, fully-informed consent.
  • about a work-related grievance.  Staff are reminded that any grievance should be raised using the Grievance Policy and Procedure. 

Staff should be aware that any use of social media, whether or not accessed for work purposes may be monitored and, where breaches of this policy are found, action may be taken under the Trust’s Disciplinary policy.

Staff should consider the following advice if they decide to use social media sites.

  • Do not reveal personal details such as your date of birth or contact details.  Disclosing this information could put you at risk of identity fraud.
  • It has been known for NHS staff occasionally to have to take out restraining orders on obsessive patients – so if you have any concerns, do not put yourself on a public social media site without taking adequate privacy precautions.
  • Before posting images or joining any campaigns/causes, be aware that it is not just your friends who may see this, but also patients, colleagues, managers and prospective employers.
  • If, after careful consideration, you decide to post comments relating to your work in any way, you should make it clear that the comments expressed are your own and not those of your employer.

Where a professional code of conduct exists, such as listed below, these must also be adhered to:



Implementation Plan


The implementation of this policy is detailed in the implementation plan which is included as Appendix A.


Equality Analysis


The policy has been assessed using the Trust Equality Analysis and this is attached as Appendix B.


Privacy Impact Assessment


The policy has been assessed and the assessment is attached as Appendix C.







 Implementation Plan



 Equality Analysis



 Privacy Impact Assessment












Page Last Updated: 04/01/2019 15:44 
Printed from Salisbury NHS Foundation Website