NHS to monitor Facebook for negative comments about hospitals

The NHS watchdog says it may launch investigations into hospitals on the basis of online criticism

The NHS will monitor Facebook for comments about hospital services, the head of the health service regulator has said.

Peter Wyman, the newly appointed chairman of the Care Quality Commission, has said that comments and complaints posted on social media could spark investigations if they indicate that services are not to standard.

Mr Wyman told The Daily Telegraph that the proposal was part of plans to use technology more frequently in the NHS’ feedback processes. He said:  “A lot of hospitals are using social media in different ways. There is great potential there to capture people’s views.

“There are an awful lot of ways to capture what people are saying- it could be what people are saying on Facebook, it could be formal patient complaints, it could be what Healthwatch [local patient groups] are saying.

“If you have got a maternity unit which was good when we last inspected and suddenly you get staff and the public saying they aren’t happy then that is the time to be asking questions, rather than waiting for something awful to happen to mothers and babies.”

In December, The Care Quality Commission was heavily criticised by MPs who said it is “not yet an effective regulator.” The commission was described as responding slowly to tip-offs, having “an alarming lack of attention to detail” and as struggling to recruit and retain staff.