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Social Media and healthcare conversations-it’s personal.

Social Media and healthcare conversations – it’s personal.

Before Christmas I was sharing my experience of using Social Media with NHS Lay Member colleagues at a network meeting in Manchester.


(a href=””>Infographic vector designed by Freepik</a>)

Now I’m no communication expert, just an enthusiastic amateur, but fortunately at the meeting I did have a fellow colleague, George Wright, Digital Communications Manager at North West Commissioning Support Unit (NWCSU) who is, and who set the scene about how the use of Social Media and specifically Twitter has developed in the NHS.

George talked about how the NHS use of Twitter includes campaigns, information and engagement but that there has been a noticeable shift for many in healthcare to move from ‘broadcast to conversation’ and from organisations to individuals. A similar theme echoed in the title of Euan Semple’s book Organisations Don’t Tweet, People do. which makes for some useful reading.

My motivation and experience with Social Media was initially fuelled by a desire to keep up with my niece and nephew having been allowed to view their Facebook accounts. Having mastered that as an enthusiastic Internet user I was then curious to see what Twitter was about and gradually moved from re-tweeting to tweeting things myself to share with others.

My interests were largely based, but not exclusively, on healthcare, education and literature. Soon the penny dropped as I realised that Twitter was a global conversation opportunity that I could join in, meet new people, learn new things from and enjoy company with at any time of the day or night.

Conversations on Twitter about healthcare are usually driven by personal experience but as the NHS is such an enormous, complexity of organisations it can sometimes appear faceless which is odd as healthcare like most public services, is personal.

When it comes down to it if at anytime a person gets sick or injured it is an intense personal experience and could be the first time that person has needed any professional help.

Whoever you need to see for help whether that is a GP, nurse or Consultant it is a person, and a conversation will follow as to what happened, what the problem is and what might be the options to fix it or alleviate symptoms – person to person.

So it seems to me to make great sense for individuals who work in the NHS to actively use Social media not just as an additional tool to engage with people but to demonstrate that the NHS is about people first and foremost – a message that can sometimes get lost in pressured times.

Twitter has no boundaries or hierarchies, which I think is a good thing and very different from most NHS organisations, and is demonstrated if you ever get involved in a healthcare Tweetchat.

I joined in my first health Tweetchat last year in one run by the excellent and founded by the then Agency nurse Teresa Chinn @AgencyNurse who you may have heard has been awarded an MBE in the recent New Years Honours list – Congratulations Teresa!


In my first Tweetchat there were 126 participants from around the world discussing Collaboration in commissioning. There were staff from NHS organisations, nurses, doctors, patients, Voluntary sector, private sector, other public sector organisations and members of the public all engaged in a frank exchange of views and ideas some of which is reflected in the word cloud below.

wecomserswc collaboration

I would encourage anyone working in healthcare and particularly in the NHS to try out Twitter, if they haven’t already, and to join in a conversation or two.

I have met some amazing and interesting people and learned about what they are thinking and doing to make a positive difference in health and social care. Twitter has enabled these conversations and I enjoy taking part as an individual who happens to work and volunteer part time in the NHS and who is an active patient too.

Here’s a tiny snapshot of some of the people I’ve met through Twitter who are making a difference in health and social care.

  • NHS England Project Manager Clare Helm @ClareHelm2 & supporter of @WeCommissioners along with David Foord @DGFoord, Dr Jonathan Griffiths @DrJonGriffths, Val Bayliss-Brideaux @Val_BB
  • Dr Alys Cole-King @AlysColeKing who works so compassionately and positively in suicide prevention through
  • Gill Phillips @Whoseshoes the inspirational developer of Whose shoes game used in dementia care and in the challenges of creating genuine personalised care support for people
  • Helen Bevan @helenbevan Chief Transformation Officer NHSIQ founder of the The Edge, hub for change activist in heath & care
  • Dr Kate Granger @GrangerKate founder of the inspirational #hellomynameis campaign
  • David Gilbert @DavidGilbert43 and Mark Doughty @Patient Leaders Co-Directors’ & founders of Patient Leaders

Teresa Chinn MBE RN said in her Blog, Jan 2015 ( ) that:

‘We should never underestimate the significance of starting a conversation that matters..’

And healthcare conversations are personal because they’re between and about people wherever they take place and can, and do, make a difference – even on Twitter.


Further information about using Social Media can be found at:

Semple, Euan. Organizations don’t Tweet people do.- A Manager’s Guide to the Social Web. A John Wiley & Sons Ltd Publication 2012

or contact George Wright, Digital Communications/Corporate Manager at NHS North West Commissioning Support Unit (NWCSU) or @georgewright19