Somerset NHS Foundation Trust media relations policy
As part of its duty of care, Somerset NHS Foundation Trust is committed to protecting patients’ confidentiality. Legally, we have to get permission from patients or their next of kin in order to give any information to the media. Requests for interviewing and or photographing patients must always be made through the communications team.
While we are committed to being as open as possible to the general public and the media, all staff have a legal obligation to keep information about the care and treatment of individual patients confidential.
Information, including ‘condition checks’, will not be given to journalists or the news media without first seeking the consent of the patient, or a relative. Parental consent is needed for patients under 16 years of age. When a condition check is given to the news media, it will comprise a simple confirmation of facts and possibly a general statement as to the patient’s current condition, such as “stable”, “comfortable”, “critical” etc.
As a simple rule, condition checks will NOT be given out in the following circumstances:
- When the journalist does not have the patient’s name
- When the patient is unable to communicate their wishes or if their relatives wish for no information to be given
- When the patient is undergoing an operation
- When the journalist only has sketchy details of a patient and the circumstances mean that identities could be confused which could result in incorrect information being released.
Dealing with patient complaints through the media
We are legally obliged to ask permission of patients to discuss their individual circumstances. In the event of a media enquiry regarding a patient complaint about their clinical treatment, or about other hospital services, we do have to check the individual or their next of kin is happy for us to talk to the media.
Media contacting hospital staff
Staff are not automatically able to represent our organisations in the media. If staff are contacted directly by the media it is our policy that they must refer the journalist to the communications team in the first instance. The Communications team will then try to facilitate an interview request if possible.
Visits to hospital sites
All media visits to our trust premises must be agreed in advance through the communications office. Please contact them on 01823 344436 if you are interested in coming on site.
Freedom of Information enquiries
Fundraising or charity requests
For Love Musgrove fundraising or charity enquiries, please call 01823 344437 or email fundraising@somersetFT.nhs.uk