RCGP launches Highway Code for social media

NEW GUIDANCE to help GPs safely and effectively utilise social media while still protecting their patients and themselves has been published by the Royal College of General Practitioners.

The Social Media Highway Code produced in collaboration with Doctors.net.uk and LimeGreen Media is being called the "first ever practical guide to help UK doctors navigate their way around the ethical and confidentiality dilemmas of social media".

The Code is a collation of practical and supportive advice based around a ten-point plan and the first draft was launched at the RCGP annual conference last October. This prompted an online debate joined by doctors across the UK, Europe and Australia with feedback posted on Twitter, Facebook and online forums on Doctors.net.uk. This feedback has now been reviewed and the themes incorporated into the Code which was approved by the RCGP Council in February.

Code co-author Dr Ben Riley said: "The interest and feedback we have received from healthcare professionals across the globe has been fantastic. There are many opportunities for GPs and other healthcare professionals to take the lead in developing how social media can be used to improve healthcare.

"At the same time healthcare professionals need to protect their patients and support each other with using these new ways of communicating. The Code has a practical focus and addresses a number of the challenging areas that GPs and other healthcare professionals have been asking about for some time."