Nurses should not routinely use personal mobile phones for work, according to new RCN guidance

Nurses should not use personal mobile phones for work, according to new RCN guidance.

Nurses should not use personal mobile phones to record, transmit or store a patient’s personal details, health information or images, according to updated guidance from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN)

In September, research revealed that health professionals were concerned about
cyber security within their organisations. Picture: iStock

The new guidance says the RCN ‘does not support the use of staff personal mobile phones for routine provision of services’.

The document acknowledges that health IT systems, including the safe use of mobile phones, can be used to improve communication between clinicians and patients and to improve safety and efficiency for nursing staff, but warns that lines can become blurred. 

It says: ‘The modern mobile telephone has elevated the phone far beyond telephonic communication and into the realms of entertainment, knowledge management and photography.

‘The properties of current smartphones have made their use integral to many areas of our lives, such as entertainment, leisure, study and work, and for many people mobile technology has made it difficult to separate out these different spheres.’

In September, research revealed that health professionals were concerned about cyber security within their organisations.

A 500-strong survey to coincide with the UK Health Show technology event found 98% of respondents were concerned about sharing patient data on smartphones and meeting paperless deadlines, while 70% expressed doubts that confidential patient data could be shared securely.

Earlier that month, health secretary Jeremy Hunt called for the NHS to better reflect the ‘era of the smartphone’.

Advice given to nursing staff on mobile phone use:

  • Adhere to your employer’s policy on mobile phone use and if usage of personal mobile phones for work purposes is a regular occurrence, this should be raised with a manager to explore options, such as supplying a mobile phone.
  • Do not use personal mobile phones for recording, transmitting or storing patient identifiable information at any time.
  • Withhold phone number if contacting patients on personal mobile phone, and do not give personal numbers to patients, their carers, or their families.
  • Patients should be discouraged from contacting staff on their own mobile phones. Appropriate work contact details should be provided instead.
  • Enurse familiarity with your employer’s lone working policy and access to appropriate lone worker technology, rather than relying on a personal mobile phone.
  • Adhere to the Highway Code on mobile phone use while driving a vehicle.
  • Ascertain local policy on claiming for work-related calls made on a personal mobile phone, as nursing staff should not bear brunt of costs associated with work-related mobile phone use.
  • Have up-to-date anti-virus software installed on mobile phones and do not open documents, texts and emails from unknown sources and do not transfer known infected materials to work computers.

Further information

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