Social Media and Fitness to Practise


Seven years have passed since the NMBI published guidance about the use of social media for registered nurses and midwives but that guidance remains equally relevant and important today.

Social media applications have also evolved since 2013 moving from the big screen (computer) to the small screen (mobile). Access is instant from the moment you pick up your phone. Your social media apps will have loaded the latest content and all you need is a few seconds to post, ‘like’, forward, retweet or enter a response. Your speedy post or response is instantly delivered, but readers can take their time however to carefully consider what you have said.

The NMBI has noted cases in other countries where nurses and midwives have found themselves in difficulty with their professional regulator following one or more ill-judged social media posts. This article is intended to highlight the issues and guide registrants away from the common posting pitfalls which could lead to a complaint being considered by the Preliminary Proceedings Committee that may subsequently be referred to a Fitness to Practise Inquiry.

The NMBI Social Media Guidance focuses on ‘6 Ps’ to help registrants focus on the important guidelines when posting on social media.

The 6 Ps are included in the Guidance Document on Social Media and are worth reconsidering: 

  • Keep it Professional

Use social media to enhance the role of nursing and midwifery in the community. You’ve worked so hard to be a member of your profession which is held in high esteem.        

  • Be Positive

Constructively critical posts may be written with good intentions but may not be interpreted as such.           

  • It must be Patient-Free     

Never use photos, names or details of current or past patients. Comments about your workplace or the workplaces of your colleagues may not serve you well.

  • Protect yourself

Your professionalism and reputation can hinge on one (misinterpreted) post and you may spend months explaining yourself. Remember that your profile may show that you are a registered nurse or midwife. If you have not read an entire article, do not re-post it. Re-posts are considered as your endorsement of the whole article – even if you have not read it all.

  • Safeguard your Privacy

Your posts may be visible more widely than you think and may have been re-posted on other platforms. Deletion is never straightforward nor absolute.

  • Pause before posting

Think before you post something that could be offensive. This includes comments made when debating current or topical events via social media. Don’t respond to a post when you’re angry or in a hurry or in the early hours after a drink.


Pandemic Posts: There is plenty of evidence to suggest that usage of social media (and time online) has increased significantly during our periods of lockdown. It is also clear that many social media posts are related to the pandemic. The posts of healthcare personnel to include those of nurses and midwives however are receiving greater scrutiny in recent times. This is because many nurses and midwives are on the frontline dealing with the pandemic every day and therefore a post from a nurse or midwife will be considered by a reader to be well informed.

It is also noted that nurses’ and midwives’ posts about the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccination matters have attracted considerable attention in the media in recent months. This is not surprising given that the public profile of nurses and midwives is at an all-time high and with that comes increased visibility and heightened responsibility.

Every nurse and midwife is entitled to express his/her opinions about any matter. Please be mindful however of the ‘6 Ps’ and remember that your posts or tweets as professional nurse or midwife may be seen by your patients, colleagues and your future employers.

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In this issue
NMBI issues final renewal notices
Social Media and Fitness to Practise
Meet the eight new members of the NMBI Board
Fitness to Practise Committee: Call for Expressions of Interest
Revenue advice on the Annual Retention Fee
NMBI to run public consultation on Ethical Standards and Behaviour for Students
21 per cent rise in CAO applications for college nursing and midwifery courses
News Round
The NMBI Interview
Professional Focus
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