An investigation by The Times has revealed that, since 2013, more than 1,200 NHS staff have been disciplined for inappropriate use of social media or messaging apps and at least 65 have lost their jobs.
The cases include an A&E consultant who was suspended for two months in 2016 after a Twitter rant about “neurotic” patients who were “crippling the NHS” and a GP who was struck off for behaviour that included sending a naked picture of himself via WhatsApp to a vulnerable patient.
The figures were released to The Times from 194 NHS trusts in England under Freedom of Information laws. They show that overall, Yorkshire Ambulance Service reported the most cases (62) of staff being disciplined for social media use since 2013. Three of those staff were dismissed, and one resigned.
The investigation also found 47 cases at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and 37 at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. At least 15 trusts reported more than 20 cases, the investigation showed.
Last year the BMJ reported that, between 1 January 2015 and 30 June 2017, the General Medical Council (GMC) closed 28 investigations related to doctors’ use of Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp. Two of the doctors involved were suspended from the register as a result of an investigations.