Staff at one of Britain's worst hospitals told to use Facebook and Twitter on wards in bizarre bid by bosses to improve communication

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Staff at one of Britain's worst hospitals told to use Facebook and Twitter on wards in bizarre bid by bosses to improve communication

Post  wyatt1 on Fri Sep 27, 2013 10:12 pm

NHS chiefs at one of Britain’s worst hospitals have come up with a bizarre strategy for improving patient care - allowing staff to use Twitter and Facebook on the wards. 

Bosses at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHNT) decided to unblock social networks for doctors and nurses on all computers just days after Sir Bruce Keogh named and shamed it for having unacceptably high mortality rates.

Patient safety campaigner Julie Bailey, who helped expose the horrific neglect at Stafford Hospital which cost up to 1,400 lives - including her own mother - blasted the decision.

Critical: Julie Bailey, left, blasted the decision to allow doctors and nurses to access social networking sites while on the wards - especially in hospitals criticised in a damning report by Sir Bruce Keogh, right
The founder of Cure the NHS pressure group said: ‘This raises serious concerns. I just can’t see the point of it. They should be spending time with patients. 

'Patients should be the priority. And while they’re spending time on Twitter and Facebook that doesn’t indicate that’s what they going to be doing. 

‘It’s particularly disappointing to hear this NHS trust is doing this given their history of treating patients.’


ULHNT was recently put in special measures after it emerged as one of 11 failing NHS Trusts. It is also the same trust which paid £500,000 to gag a whistleblower from revealing details about patient safety concerns.

Yet now staff in Lincoln are encouraged to use Twitter and Facebook from hospital computers 'for their own communications'.

An email, which was sent from the Trust’s Communications Team on July 29, highlighted a scheme of ‘quick wins’ to improve performance across its ailing hospitals.
It told staff: 'We have taken the step to open up all social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, for use by Trust staff.
'From now on, you will be able to access these websites from all Trust computers.'

Changes: Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire, pictured, is one of the sites where nurses will be able to access Facebook and twitter while on the wards

The policy was one of the first repsonses to the announcement that the Trust was named as one of the worst in Britain in the damning Keogh review.
The move means doctors and nurses can post on sites such as Facebook and Twitter during work hours, sparking fears they could be distracted from treating patients.
Before the Keogh review was published, ULNHT staff could not access social networks on hospital networks.
A hospital worker, who did not want to be named, said: 'Managers say it’s to help staff communicate between hospitals but that’s rubbish. We already have an internal email and computer system funded at great expense by the taxpayer which we can use for that.
'The last thing this hospital and its patients need is staff getting distracted by Facebook and Twitter whilst at work.
'It's hard to see how staff can focus on change at the same time as being allowed to fritter away time on social media.These computers are all over the wards.
'Previously Twitter and Facebook were blocked but now they’re unblocked, it doesn’t make any sense.
But a Trust spokesman defended the move, saying it was intended to promoted 'openness and transparency' within the organisation.
A spokeswoman said: 'It is not unusual for NHS Trusts to make social networking sites available for their staff.
'We made the decision to open up access to social networking sites as a result of staff feedback that we needed to explore new ways of ensuring effective communication with our employees across four hospital sites.
'This is one of many actions taken to improve communication with staff and to encourage a culture of trust, openness and transparency within the organisation.'
ULHNT was rated among the worst of 11 Trusts placed under ‘close watch’ after Sir Bruce Keogh’s review into hospital death rates was published in July this year.
Inspectors found there had been 12 ‘never’ events - potentially life-threatening but avoidable mistakes - within the trust.
ULHNT announced this week it was to hire dozens of foreign nurses after staffing levels were criticised. 


A former NHS hospital chief turned whistleblower was paid £500,000 in a ‘supergag’ deal to prevent him discussing his concerns about patient safety.
Gary Walker, pictured right, said he was asked to ‘compromise the safety of patients in order to achieve Government targets’ at the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust where he worked.
Tory MP Stephen Phillips compared the situation to the scandal at Mid Staffordshire Trust where up to 1,200 patients died ‘unnecessarily’ because of the focus on targets.
He said he suspected there has been a scandal of ‘similar proportions’ at United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust.
Mr Walker, 42, was sacked from his £140,000-a-year post in February 2010 after allegations that he swore in meetings, but his supporters claimed it was a trumped-up charge.
They said that prior to his dismissal, the chief executive – who rescued the Trust from £24.5million debts – had a serious disagreement with his superiors over the direction of health policies.
He took his employers to a tribunal to claim unfair dismissal, but signed a deal with the Trust before the hearing was due to begin in April last year.
The tribunal judge had already found evidence Mr Walker had made disclosures about patient safety, which were protected under whistleblowing laws.
The patient mortality rate at the Trust, including the rate for emergency admissions, was above the expected rate for the last three years, according to an independent analysis.
Mr Walker’s supporters told the Daily Mail the Trust paid him ‘hush money’ to prevent the public discovering that senior clinicians had raised concerns about risks to patients.
David Bowles, a former chairman of the same Trust who resigned in 2009 over NHS targets, said he had also received a gagging letter after being called as a tribunal witness.
He said: ‘The real question is if you sack somebody and you don’t pay them off, why do you spend £500,000 trying to cover up what they have to say?’

"ULHNT announced this week it was to hire dozens of foreign nurses after staffing levels were criticised"

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