A senior NHS doctor is facing serious disciplinary procedures after utilising his Twitter accounts to complain about A&E patients that clog up the service unnecessarily.
Dr Christian Solomonides, 37, posted dozens of messages on his social media page claiming 90% of accident and emergency admissions were essentially examples of malingering.
In particular, Solomonides pointed out that many people who admit themselves to accident and emergency departments are ultimately suffering from very trivial medical issues.
The doctor particularly pointed to “Ambulance for a broken nail, an earache, period pain, not being able to sleep are all real. What’s going on with the people of the U.K…” in his Twitter feed.
Elsewhere in his Twitter account, the medic suggested a fine of £50 to be attributed to any individual who abused the critical A&E service.
Solomonides concluded that “something needs to be done about our Emergency Department. Immigration has precipitated a dramatic rise in unwarranted attendances.”
And the medic has now been reported to the General Medical Council following an anonymous complaint.
In response to the criticism, the doctor has apologised for his words, stating that they were made at a difficult period in his existence.
“On reflection many of the tweets were made during the darkest period of my life. I think I felt a need to express my frustrations and Twitter provided the platform with which to do so. At the time it was cathartic. It fulfilled a need to rant during a highly stressful period of my life.”
At a fitness to practice hearing in Manchester, Solomonides, of Chingford, East London, was found guilty of misconduct, but escaped being struck off and was given a two-month suspension.
Yet many of the commenters on a Daily Mail article documenting the issue supported both the position and opinions of the doctor.
And this was ultimately acknowledged in the verdict of the tribunal, although it was also emphasised that the rightness of the views in question was irrelevant to the public appropriateness.
Tribunal chairman Ms Lisa Smith told him that the suspension was not intended to be “punitive”, and explained the reasons behind it.
“The tribunal determined that, whilst some people may agree with your views, a reasonable and well-informed member of the public would not expect a doctor to air such views in a public forum and in the manner in which you did. The anger and offensive language expressed in many of your tweets is not behaviour that the public expects from doctors. In this way, the tribunal determined that your tweets have the potential to bring the medical profession into disrepute.”
The verdict will be a reminder to healthcare staff to use the often sensitive platform of social media sensibly and responsibly.
Following his speech last week in which he accused the NHS of possessing a “Monday to Friday” culture, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has been bombarded with an avalanche of tweets from NHS staff on weekend shifts.
Mr Hunt’s calls for seven-day working across the NHS led to the #ImInWorkJeremy Twitter hashtag.
As part of his speech Mr Hunt said that consultants having the right to opt-out of working at weekends had resulted in 6,000 deaths a year. He went on to set a deadline of September to negotiate a new contract.
Many of the #ImInWorkJeremy messages highlighted the work undertaken by doctors at the weekend, as well as showcasing the goodwill of grateful families. Many selfies were also sent to the inundated health secretary.
In response, Mr Hunt said that the professionalism of the NHS needed to be reflected by a modern contract to make the service safer.