19 April 2010

Betty here again

Thank you all for commenting on my post. I had no idea there were so many of you out there. John seems to have more virtual friends than real friends. Quite a few more actually.

I have learnt a lot from you all. It seems that this blogging ban for NHS staff comes from the very top. Anonymous (who seems to comment rather a lot) has pointed out that the ban originates from from David Nicholson himself. Somebody else has posted a link from which you can find out that Alan Milburn "committed himself and the new Labour Government to protecting the freedom of speech in the national health service". It's a powerful medium this blogging malarkey. I am beginning to like it.

Tell me something. If you work for Virgin Healthcare are you allowed to blog when there is a election in the offing? Presumably you are. So why can't you blog if you work for the NHS? Is this fair? It doesn't seem so to me.

What are the authorities afraid of?

13 comments:

Mike said...

David Nicholson (who he?) is not empowered to act in breach of Human Rights legislation, or to negate national terms and conditions. He has no right or authority to act in such an overbearing and unacceptable manner. I would be grateful if someone could provide a reference confirming that this action originates from him. I Don't blog but maybe I will start one as an act of defiance.

pj said...

"NHS employees are of course free, in their private capacity, to engage in public debate or comment during the election period but should avoid drawing themselves or the organisation in which they work into party political controversy. They should not use their official premises or equipment (for instance, work mobile phones) for political activities and should not make comments based on information that is not generally available to the public. It must be clearly stated that the views expressed are those of the individual and not the NHS organisation for which they work."*

That's the Nicholson (NHS Chief Executive) guidance for NHS employees. The stuff about blogs and youtube applies to NHS blogs and such like as far as I can see.

They have, however, still left themselves a fair bit of wiggle room to screw you over in the line:

"NHS employees...should avoid drawing themselves or the organisation in which they work into party political controversy...for political activities and should not make comments based on information that is not generally available to the public. It must be clearly stated that the views expressed are those of the individual and not the NHS organisation for which they work"

Because obviously any political comment could be party political (and NHS employees are not supposed to be barred from party political campaigning), the knowledge a doctor has of working in the NHS is not generally available to the public, and pseudonymous bloggers don't usually make it clear they're talking in a personal capacity because, by definition, they hide who their employer is making that implicit.


* The link to the letter was given in the comments of the previous post (it is here).

Mike said...

Having now read the letter it is clear that it does not constitute an order banning blogging and the approach taken by Dr G employer is not a justified interpretation of the guidance. I suggest your own local chief exec is overstepping the mark.
So using your own equipment, in your own time, in your own home would be OK.
Information "generally available to the public" would include anything that could be obtained by a FOI request.
This leaves plenty of latitude.

M said...

It suspect it would be mortifying for labour if someone who truly understood the extent of pointless fuckwittery occurring the NHS should point it out to the citizens who they unfortunately have to rely on to vote them into power. Certainly Politicians seem to want an American style election, based predominantly on PR and over-arching statements like 'change' rather than the comparatively boring subject of how x (e.g. Private finance initiatives) are utterly destroying y (e.g. the NHS, the Army and almost every public body). Obviously I must point out in fairness that as moronic as labour are, Conservatives may be worse for the NHS, certainly their almost unswerving loyalty to marketisation and privatisation of health care is making me want to shoot the lesser-spotted-amongst-proles-toff rather than just rabbits.

Sam said...

You are a doctor too Betty, right? How come you can talk but not Dr G?

And I hope you too will start your own blog soon :-)

Nursing Student said...

What does this mean for me, and other nursing/medical bloggers? Ugh.

Old Codger said...

Alan Milburn is a politician and you can't believe anything a politician says.

"What are they afraid of" ... the truth perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I got our trust to take down approving comments from MPs about our application for Trust status. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander...

Anonymous said...

i blame those bloody guardian readers!!

Julie McAnulty said...

Every day I check here to see if Dr Grumble or Betty has done another post. Every day I am disappointed.
*sigh*

Dr Grumble said...

I am sorry, Julie. You might think that just before an election things would go quiet as far as change in the NHS is concerned but it has been quite the opposite. In Betty's workplace they have had a bombshell - predictable for anybody as well informed as Dr G - and in Dr G's Trust we have the management consultants in trying to save money. Neither of us feel we can comment on these things.

Anonymous said...

Can a medical student Grumble comment?

The Angry Medic said...

Yes Dr G, do you have any children? Get a neighbour to write your blog for you then.

How ridiculous to expect bloggers to quieten down as the national media (and every Joe Bloggs with a working voicebox and a pet dog to rant to) starts ratcheting up the commentary.