#NHSEngage – Why I use social media

Mark Newbold /   June 29, 2015 at 8:35 PM 1,386 views

It’s great to see Dean Royles and NHS Employers highlighting the benefits of social media use in the NHS. Social media enables conversations, crosses organisational boundaries with ease, and spreads learning and innovation quickly and effectively. I have written before about why I use it. For me it is about driving openness and transparency in NHS leadership. As a hospital CEO I have many difficult and sensitive decisions to make, and I try to make them based on what is best for the patient. I have no other agenda, so why not share my thinking and encourage debate? The hashtag #NHSEngage is appropriate because actually we aren’t too good at this! As the slide below (from a recent talk) shows, we tend to try and engage when we need something from our public. We must instead enter into a continual dialogue, and thereby build mutual understanding, and trust. Engaging with colleagues is educational, fun, and illuminating. In the slide below, on the right, CEO colleagues in mental and community health are discussing common issues. On the left, a member of our nursing staff, not known personally to me, responds to something I published in my blog. Isn’t it great, and positive? Of course, any member of the public can engage, and they may be critical or challenging. I know this deters some colleagues, but why? The informal nature of the medium can help the conversation and, anyway, since when was not hearing, or not engaging, with complainants an effective or appropriate strategy? And complaints are always balanced by compliments, such as this one from a colleague. And ‘anyone’ can include our journalist colleagues too, of course! It’s a rich debate, that opens opportunities. Our recent leadership and management learning set for junior doctors came about as a result of a Twitter conversation – our younger colleagues certainly ‘get it’ and will offer us much if we engage with them on their terms. I am often asked how I link with our Trust Communications function. We work in tandem, sometimes overlapping and supporting, but with separate aims: Our Trust Twitter account @heartofengland is run by Comms – have a look and you will see they major on information giving, highlighting events and activities, and delivering messages. My account @drmarknewbold is run by me – I do not have a separate personal account. As I am trying to personalise NHS leadership, a little of myself seems appropriate? Too much Leicester City talk would probably deter those who follow me because of an interest in healthcare, but an occasional comment should not, and it is part of who I am (although too much Leicester City talk would deter my real life friends too!) I write a blog, which works well in conjunction with both Twitter and Linked In. Have a look here if you are interested. The most popular section is my CEO Diary, which I publish every couple of weeks. Again it is an attempt to ‘open up’ my professional role, and to share the breadth of issues that arise during my working week. It is a commonly held view that the NHS hierarchy is rather wary of openness and speaking out. I think this is changing, but is it risky to use social media? I haven’t found it so, although one must always remember that the serious and sensitive nature of our work applies to social media in the same way that it does to speaking or writing elsewhere. As more NHS leaders engage with social media so attitudes will change and, in the process, we will start to build a more open and transparent culture across the service. A brilliant example of how social media is changing the way we engage with patients and the public is Patient Opinion. We can engage with our public through them – look at this for a fantastic example of how open dialogue can change things for the better! I strongly support the permissive use of social media in the NHS, and I wish #NHSEngage every success. Lets get behind it, and make it a consistent part of ‘how we do business’! Courtesy of Mark Newbold

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