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02-10-2012 | General practice | Article

GPs invited to RCGP social media debate



medwireNews: The RCGP is encouraging GPs to join in an online discussion about the use of social media.

The College hopes their views and ideas will help finalise its Social Media Highway Code, being developed with

Ideas can be posted on the RCGP's Facebook page or in a dedicated forum, and emailed to

There will also be an online Twitter chat running concurrently with a panel discussion on social media issues at the RCGP annual conference this week. The live event runs from 12 to 1 pm on Friday; the hashtag for doctors wanting to join the debate on Twitter is #RCGPac.

Dr Ben Riley, the lead author of the Code and a GP in Oxfordshire, said: "We gathered advice and experience from a wide range of GPs, other healthcare professionals, journalists and patients who actively use social media to develop the draft Social Media Highway Code.

"This experience highlighted the fact that the same professional challenges we learn to manage every day as doctors, around issues like respecting patient privacy and maintaining appropriate boundaries, also apply when using social media. But it also highlighted a need for more practical advice to help healthcare professionals make these judgements in the new and fast-moving world of social media."

RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada, a prolific user of Twitter who has more than 10,000 followers, helped write the Code. She said: "We shouldn't underestimate the extent to which doctors and other healthcare professionals will use online tools like Twitter and Facebook in the future - social media will fundamentally change the way we interact with patients, for the better."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price