This page outlines our online policy and answers common questions.
Page contents (quick links)
Why do you have an online policy?
Please consider these rules and guidelines when you submit comments to this website and any blog posts. We want everyone to have a good experience.
Where we seek your views, we will consider all comments before publishing a response.
How do you handle comments?
It remains at our discretion whether to publish comments or not.
- Do you pre-moderate comments? Yes. We pre-moderate most of the comments we receive, which means that we don't publish them immediately. We have systems in place to alert us of incoming comments and will process these as quickly as we can (usually within 48 hours, but possibly longer if for any reason we're unable to access comments).
- Will you ever censor views? Yes. We don't intend to censor your views, but we want to ensure that comments relate to particular topics or issues being discussed. So we may decide not to publish comments that are unrelated or irrelevant. We will not moderate comments to suppress reasoned and legitimate discussion.
- Will you ever reject comments? Yes. We may do so at our discretion. Should we decide not to publish for a reason other than those given below, we will try to reply to you by email explaining the reasons. We may invite you to change your comment as appropriate so that we can reconsider it.
- How quickly will you publish comments? We aim to publish comments 24 to 48 hours after we've received them, so at times when we're very busy it may take longer. We may delay publishing comments or questions if for any reason we need to seek further information first.
- Do you ever remove comments? Yes. We reserve the right to suspend comments at any time without having to give a reason and to remove those that are older than six months.
We encourage comments that are appropriate and constructive.
- How will you respond to questions and comments? We always try to read and respond to every comment, wherever we can. Please bear in mind that views by other people or organisations on this site or our social media outlets are entirely theirs and not necessarily endorsed by us. We try to answer questions where possible, but if you need an official response please contact us.
- Do you have age restrictions? Yes. If you're aged 16 or under, please get your parent's or guardian's permission before you submit a comment - otherwise we can't allow you to participate or provide us with personal information.
- What about using capitals? Please do not write in capitals, which many people regard as 'shouting' and find offensive.
- What about the use of language? Please use language that is suitable for people of different ages and backgrounds.
- How many comments can I post? Please only post one comment at a time, as we'll remove duplicate comments or repeats.
What standards must I adhere to?
You must not submit comments that:
- Are offensive - including those that are disrespectful or malicious, or that attack a person's character.
- We consider being spam - any irrelevant messages that are off-topic or that are being sent to large numbers of people or sites, or both.
- Are overly long - be reasonably concise and limit your comment to a maximum of 500 words or so.
- Incite hatred - on the basis of gender, race, religion, sexuality or nationality, or any other personal characteristic.
- Use inappropriate and unacceptable language - such as hate speech, swearing, stereotyping or obscenity.
- Reveal personal details - please don't reveal personal details such as other people's names, Twitter handles, private phone numbers, addresses, online contact details or email addresses.
- Impersonate others - including comments that falsely claim to represent a person or organisation.
- Are party-political - health is always high on the political agenda, and so references to political parties or policies may be appropriate - but be aware that we reserve the right to not publish comments that are party-political in nature.
- Break the law - such as condoning illegal activities, breaking copyright, and libel.
- Clearly advertise commercial products and services - though it may sometimes be OK to mention relevant products and services as long as they're relevant and support your comment.
- Are not in English - please understand that at the moment we don't have the resources to moderate comments in other languages.
- Contain inappropriate health messages - we will remove comments that glamorise drinking, smoking or drug-taking, or that promote poor moral examples.
- Give specific health advice - please don't ask for or give specific health advice.
- Refer to specific medical products - please don't refer to specific medicinal products, medicines, services and appliances if the context is not appropriate.
- Are financially motivated - we will remove comments made following financial or other inducements.
- Are defamatory or legally sensitive - please don't make comments that relate to current court cases or court injunctions, accuse an individual or organisation of clinical negligence, are threatening in nature or may damage an individual's reputation.
What's your policy on posts, retweets and 'follows'?
We use our website as well as Twitter and Facebook to try and communicate with you quickly, clearly and in an engaging way. Our posts may include (but are not limited to):
- Links to our work - to blog posts, news, guidance, videos and other materials relating to what we do.
- Links to other information - produced and published elsewhere, for example by patient organisations, the NHS, researchers or news organisations - including blog posts, videos, and retweets (RTs) from other Twitter users.
- Interesting facts - facts, quotes and observations relating of possible interest to you and relating to our work.
- Questions - topical questions and discussion points related to our work to encourage debate.
- Retweets - our retweets don't imply endorsement, and we only retweet links, news and personal observations that we feel are relevant to the work we do and that we think may interest you.
- Following - our decision to follow an individual or organisation on Twitter does not imply endorsement of any kind.
- Replies - we try to access our twitter account during regular office hours, and we may also monitor twitter and respond at other times of the day - but please be aware that there are times when we're unable to monitor and respond quickly to incoming tweets.
- @replies and Direct Messages (DMs) - we will read and respond to @replies and DMs as quickly as possible, but if you need an urgent response from us, please contact us.
If you think that someone commenting on our website or social media outlets breaks our rules - or if you feel we do - then please contact us and let us know. We promise we'll look into this as soon as we can.
Page last reviewed and updated 20 October 2021
Next review due 12 August 2022