500,000 NHS staff relying on messenger apps at work

A new report has found that unauthorised instant messaging apps are being used by approximately 500,000 NHS staff at work, with more than one in 50 personnel facing disciplinary action for its usage.

Instant Messaging in the NHS, published by mobile technology company CommonTime, states that a growing number of staff are turning to consumer tools, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, to communicate with colleagues and patients. The personnel found to be facing disciplinary action equates to some 29,000 NHS employees in England.

43 per cent of staff said they relied on consumer IM at work, equaling approximately 500,000 NHS employees across England, with confidentiality threats identified and alleged malicious uses reported. Additionally, 59 per cent of doctors and nurses questioned use consumer messaging apps at least once per week, despite the fact that trust policies do not permit their use, and even though 75 per cent of users questioned in the report expressed confidentiality concerns.

Furthermore, it was also found that 39 per cent of staff were not aware of their organisation’s governance and data protection documentation, and one in five had not been offered or received data protection training.

Although the report found many valid reasons for staff turning to consumer apps, including organising roots and developing community care plans, it also revealed cases of patient details being posted on social media, pictures of patients being sent to others for ‘entertainment purposes’ and sharing addresses and phone numbers.


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