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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

The art of sharing- reflections on NHS Confederation conference Liverpool 2014

 I was fortunate to attend the recent NHS Confederation conference and exhibition in Liverpool last week. I felt privileged to be able to see and network with many people from a range of organisations involved in health and social care.

Everyone I met or listened to was keen to share their experiences, and sharing for me was a constant theme throughout the three days.

I always reflect on what I’ve heard, who I meet and write up notes from sessions attended for information to share with my colleagues at

I thought it might be useful to share more widely what, and who, stood out for me during the three days. I’ve put related links in so that if you weren’t there and are interested you can check them out in your own time.

So here are the ones I’m still thinking about:


RWebster  Text RW

This was a really impressive speech, which encouraged everyone to get off the ‘burning platforms’ and embrace a ‘burning ambition’ for changes needed in the future. Rob emphasised the need to support sharing of information and the collaboration of genuine co-commissioning.

2. One patient, different perspectives, many different outcomes: NHS Leadership Academy

I took part in this interactive session, taking on the role of a GP, where enthusiastic participants (who took on other health and social care roles) shared views, and discussed and debated many practical, ethical and real issues of commissioning and providing good health and social care.

Thanks to Helen Stevens, Head of Engagement, from the NHS Leadership Academy and her colleagues for their excellent facilitation of this activity. It brought out many of the complexities of systems leadership and certainly made me think further about integrated care for older people.

3.        Dr Patrick Soon-Shiong: Transforming models of care – this time it’s personal  

Dr Soon-Shiong is a physician, surgeon, scientist, businessman and philanthropist whose presentation completely blew me away. Firstly, this was for the clinical breakthrough he’s making in cancer diagnosis and personalised treatments using genetics, genomics and cracking the DNA of different cancers.

Secondly, for the work he is doing with NANTHEALTH on an interoperable system, which links data, knowledge, and information in an interactive way. The system can be added to any platform and can accelerate the coordination of health and social care data, and information for patients in real time, and in a cost effective way.


        KGranger        KGranger #hello

Kate Granger was the last person to speak at the conference and you could have heard a pin drop in the hall as everyone concentrated on what she had to say. Kate is now famous for starting the #hellomynameis campaign to remind healthcare practitioners to introduce themselves to patients.

She talked about the ‘little things’ that make a big difference to her as a patient and gave examples of the kindness she has received and reflected on her experience.

Kate is actively raising money for the Yorkshire Cancer Centre and has written two books ‘The Other Side’ and ‘The Bright Side’

She has raised over £100,000 to date but has £250,000 in her sights before she dies. She plans to jump out of a plane in August to raise further funds.

She is a truly remarkable, compassionate and determined young woman.


 These top four speakers demonstrated the art of sharing in different ways that can help to improve and/or change health and social care for the better.

Other people who made an impression on me included:

Helen Bevan, NHS Improving Quality

Lisa Rodrigues, Chief Executive, Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust @LisaSaysThis

Mark Doughty,
The Centre for Patient Leadership

Ceinwen Giles, Patient Leader and Trustee, Shine Cancer Support @ceineken

I’m interested to know if you were at NHS Confederation – what stood out for you and how do you share the work you do?

If you weren’t at the conference I hope you’ve found my thoughts and links interesting. Is there something you would like to share from your experience in health and social care that could benefit others?