Policy briefing

Instant messaging: guidance for NHS staff in hospitals

New guidance is intended to help NHS organisations and staff judge how and when to use instant messaging in acute clinical settings

NHS England advises organisations and staff on how and when to use instant messaging in acute care

Essential facts

Instant messaging services such as WhatsApp have become useful communication tools for many nurses in their everyday work and also during major emergencies.

Doctors and nurses responding to the fire at Grenfell Tower and terrorist attacks in London and Manchester said instant messaging helped them plan services and arrange staffing. This led to important improvements in patient care, according to NHS England.

However, the use of such services – often on personal smartphones – raises concerns about the security of information shared by healthcare staff.

A survey of more than 800 NHS staff in March by mobile technology firm CommonTime suggested 43% use instant messaging at work. The NMC has warned in the past that nurses judged to have

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