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Social networking use continues to catch people out in their professional capacity

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Last week an operating department practitioner (ODP) faced disciplinary proceedings before the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) for misconduct after taking to Twitter to vent frustrations with his employer and his profession.

The nature of his tweets varied from making offensive remarks about the board to joke comments relating to the nature of his work. One comment, believed not to relate to an actual patient, read, “I was going to save the pubes from the first patient I shaved today and stick them on Wiggins-style".

The controversial Twitter posts included a number of work-related photographs. The ODP involved admitted the allegations and put them down to his own frustrations including his ‘limited career progression’. The ODP resigned but it was confirmed that he was to be dismissed regardless. He also chose not to attend the disciplinary hearing.

This case raises a number of important points for Health and Care professionals and others. Firstly, use of social media. While many people do choose to make controversial comments on sites such as Twitter, you must remember, it is an open forum. Cases of this nature are not uncommon, especially when using it to share views on your employer or profession.

As a result, the approach must be a cautious one as despite social media being a recreational activity, what may start out as an off the cuff tweet or post could still lead you to being subject to disciplinary proceedings before your regulator and consequently fighting for your career.

Secondly, it is important for any professionals who are called before their regulator to show insight, seek assistance and ensure they attend the hearing fully prepared to enable them to properly defend their actions.

By Carl Johnson, Patner in the professional discipline team

If you are a health and care professional who is facing disciplinary proceedings by the HCPC, our regulatory team can help. For advice and assistance from our team of specialist lawyers please call 0333 344 4889.  

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