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Terms and conditions

Comments policy

NHS Choices has a number of areas where you can contribute to the site. You can comment on almost any NHS service, including hospitals, GP practices and dentists, and rate them – we welcome feedback, whether you, a friend or a family member were a patient or even if you were just visiting. You can also add comments on articles in most areas of the site and we have a number of areas where we put your questions to health professionals.

Contributions to this website may be moderated, that is, checked to make sure they don’t break our rules. You will need to keep your contributions constructive, relevant and civil. The following rules and guidelines are to protect both you and the NHS, and our moderators will remove contributions that break the rules.

 

Commenting on NHS services (including hospitals, GP practices and dentists)

The service you receive from the NHS will never be adversely affected by your feedback on hospitals, GP surgeries, dental practices or any other health provider and you can comment anonymously if you wish. You should respect the anonymity of other patients and staff at the service you are commenting on by not using their names.

The “Patient feedback” feature for each hospital, GP and dental practice in England is there for you to comment on your, or a friend’s or family member’s, hospital, general practice or dental care. This is not a formal complaint procedure and if you wish to make a complaint you should read our guide to making a complaint. NHS trusts and the service providers are not obliged to read the comments, though many do. If you want a reply to your feedback you should contact the provider of the NHS service either directly or through the local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS), listed on the page of the hospital, GP practice, dental practice or other service you have used.

Giving your feedback on an NHS service does not require registration with NHS Choices but you will need to provide an email address so that we can contact you if there are any problems.

Feedback should be made within the “Patient feedback” area on each hospital, GP practice, dental practice or NHS service's page. This area is not suitable for making general political points about NHS services. Feedback from members of staff will not be accepted. Ratings and comments must be about events within the past 2 years. Once a previously accepted comment is more than 2 years old, we indicate this next to the comment and remove any ratings from the service's overall rating score. 

Complaining about another person’s comment

If you think that someone’s contribution to the website breaks our rules you can alert one of our moderators by clicking the links provided to report a comment. Reporting a comment will not automatically remove it but will ensure we look at it as soon as possible. The moderators will then decide whether to remove it permanently or reinstate it.

 

Relevance, civility and decency

Relevance: comments must be relevant to the page they are to appear on. 

Be civil: please ensure that your contributions are respectful of others. We will remove contributions that are unlawful, harassing, abusive, threatening, obscene, sexually suggestive, racist, homophobic or sexist or that incite or promote hatred of any group of individual.  

Writing in capitals: do not write in capital letters – on the internet this is regarded as “shouting” and many people are offended by it.  

Be informative: ensure that your comment has enough information to describe your experience, and if you are commenting on a hospital, GP practice, dental practice or community NHS Service, provide enough information to assist someone else in making decisions about the service.  

Abusive language: comments containing swearing will be removed. People of all ages use the NHS Choices website and language should be suitable for them.  

English: all comments on the website must be made in English. Comments in other languages will be removed.  

Stereotypes: comments that stereotype sections of society will be removed.  

Multiple posts: duplicate comments or repeats will be removed.

 

Privacy and confidentiality

Whether you are speaking for yourself or on behalf of another person – if for example you are a carer or parent – do not name the individuals you are talking about. If you are making a comment on another person’s behalf, it is best instead to talk of ”my husband” “my uncle” and so on to protect their privacy.

Personal information: to protect your privacy any information you contribute that reveals personal information, such as phone numbers, email addresses, addresses and so on will be removed. Any attempts to use the site to exchange personal information or arrange meetings with another user will also be removed.

 

Screenames, nicknames and impersonation

Screen names used on NHS Choices are moderated. When selecting a screen name make sure you choose one that is not rude, offensive or aimed at impersonating another person.

Naming businesses: Please avoid naming businesses or commercial services in your comment.  

Under 16s: We ask that people under 16 get permission from a parent or guardian before posting on NHS Choices.

 

Health advice, medical products and commercial activity

Comments that glamorise smoking, drug use or drinking or that promote a poor moral example will be removed.

Asking for and giving specific medical advice will be permitted only in clearly marked areas and will be removed from other areas.

Comments deemed to be advertising a product or service will be removed.

We may remove references to specific medical products or medicines if the context is not appropriate.

Irrespective of their contents, comments will be removed if they were, or might reasonably be suspected of being, made following financial or any other inducement.

Legal issues, criminal activity or negligence

Current court cases and court injunctions: contempt of court rules mean you cannot make comments that could prejudice the outcome of a court case or General Medical Council hearing. Comments on something that subsequently becomes the subject of a court case or hearing will also be removed if they risk contempt of court. Contributions that break a court injunction will be removed. 

Clinical negligence or criminal activity: specific accusations of clinical negligence in which an individual is identified will not be published. If you have a serious allegation of clinical negligence by a particular clinician please use the NHS Complaints procedure. Accusations of specific criminal activity will not be published. If you believe that criminal activity is or has taken place at any hospital please contact the police or hospital directly.

Defamation: defamation may occur when someone makes an untrue statement which damages a person's reputation or someone makes a statement which expresses an opinion which they do not sincerely hold.

Disclaimer: this definition is not to be regarded as a statement of the law nor should it be relied upon to make any judgment as to whether content is potentially defamatory. It is up to you to decide whether to take specific legal advice.

Threats: comments containing threats of public fear, terrorism or threats towards any individual are not permitted.  

Copyright: ensure that you own the copyright to any material you put on the site - especially if you have copied it from another source. If we are in doubt about the ownership of content we will remove it from the site. 

Further information

Privacy
When you make a comment you will be asked to either create an NHS Choices membership account or, for comments on hospitals, GP practices, dental practices and other NHS service, to provide an email address. Your details will only be used to contact you about services you have expressed an interest in or to contact you about your comment should there be any concern about it. NHS Choices will not pass on your details to any other party unless permitted or required by the 1998 Data Protection Act.  

Copyright of your contributions
Your contributions to the NHS Choices website are published and viewable to the general public. In submitting your comments you assign all rights to NHS Choices for use and publication of your contribution (further information can be found in terms and conditions). If you are unwilling to grant NHS Choices copyright to your contribution you should not submit it to the site. 

Action we may take
A breach of any of our rules can lead to your comment being rejected. Repeated or serious breaches of our rules may lead to NHS Choices blocking contributions from your email address or suspending your NHS Choices account. NHS Choices reserves the right to delete any content at any time for any reason and is under no obligation to publish any contributions. NHS Choices reserves the right to alter or update the house rules or terms and conditions at any time.

Page last reviewed: 20/09/2012

Next review due: 20/09/2014

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