A #Brexit warning

Naomi McVey warns about the need to be careful on social media when getting involved in Brexit discussions

by Naomi McVey


There's no getting away from the fact that health and healthcare are political. The junior doctors’ strike and NHS bursaries consultation demonstrate this. Increasingly social media drives much of the debate, independent of mainstream organisations and press.

Politics is not a dirty word. Social justice, equality and inclusion are all intricately part of health and healthcare. We are fortunate to live in a democracy and politics can be positive force for change. Many of us need to engage with the politics of health to improve services, raise the profile of what we do, and get things done. It’s also important to be aware of the strategic decisions that affect our services.

Unprecedented political commentary

The EU referendum has brought unprecedented political content onto my Twitter and Facebook timelines. Since the referendum result last week family, friends and colleagues who previously shared very little political views online are posting comments on a daily basis. Family members have argued, accusations thrown, things said in anger, and accounts deleted in response.

Emotions are running high on both sides and I can’t help feeling many people will regret their comments in a few weeks’ time. For some this could end up career limiting.

Think before you post

I’d urge you to be careful on social media over the next few weeks. If you do get involved in #Brexit discussions:

  • Refer back to your employer policy and professional guidance, remind yourself of the professionalism and conduct expected of you as a student or healthcare worker at all times. Remember that even Facebook posts to ‘friends only’ come under this. Hold other people accountable to this guidance too.
  • Think carefully about what you are trying to achieve – if it’s to vent your anger try to find another outlet.
  • Step back and listen – ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood’ and use social media as an opportunity to learn about different views.
  • Consider the impact of what you blog, tweet or post on your day-to-day working relationships.
  • If you feel anger or frustration over social media content then take a break. Save and revisit your comments before posting them.
  • Drunk? Keep well away no matter how tempting.

Don’t regret it

The long term impact of the EU referendum is unknown, but there is no doubt it is a monumental milestone in our country’s history and one we are unlikely to forget. Get involved in discussions, learn about what happens next, just don’t let what you post on social media become something you regret later.

Some of this content is adapted from blog originally posted at http://www.wecommunities.org/blogs/2183 

Read CSP’s social media guidance

Naomi McVey is programme manager for AHP Workforce with the North West AHP Network.

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