Author: Alex Talbott

The best #nhssm of 2016

It’s that time of year again, where has 2016 gone?! Here’s our summary of the best social media use from across the NHS this year.


Headlining our line-up is the @NHS Twitter account. Modelled on the @Sweden profile, @NHS is curated by a different person each week. Sometimes it’s a patient, a carer or a member of NHS staff. So far we’ve heard from 4 patients, a consultant paramedic, a psychologist, a charge nurse, a surgical registrar, an operating department practitioner and a midwife!

We applaud the behind the scenes logistics and admin that must have been involved in getting this off the ground and the continued work towards bringing new perspectives to us every week.

Keep an eye on the account going into to 2017 for ace videos like the below.


It the rough seas of post-referendum #Brexit Britain the #LoveOurEUStaff campaign from NHS Employers was a guiding light back towards less divisive, more inclusive rhetoric. The pace at which the campaign was started and took root throughout public and NHS networks was impressive with nearly 10,000 people sharing their support to date.

We hope despite the uncertainty that still exists for European staff across the NHS, 2017 will bring more stories of their major contribution and as swift as possible a way of ensuring they can easily continue to work in the NHS post-Brexit.


NHS Blood and Transplant’s Missing Type campaign was re-loaded after it’s storming success in 2015. Joined by a wide range of corporate, NHS and public sector supporters the campaign went international in 2016.

Perhaps after the glut of Christmas we could all give a little blood? As the campaign says, “You can give blood in less than an hour and save and improve up to three lives.”

Pimp my zimmer!

Thanks to @DrSodha for bringing this one to our attention!

How do you get older people, some with dementia, to remember to use their zimmer frames more often? Why pimp those Zimmers of course! Such a simple and cool idea. It lead to a drop in falls of 60% in the care home it was started in.

Bath and North East Somerset (BaNES) CCG’s Community Champions

BaNES CCG worked with a team of community champions to involve service users and carers in the re-procurement of community health and care services. The champions were trained and supported to evaluate and score bids for the £700 million contract which was won by Virgin Care.

In this series of short, personal videos from the community champions (many from within their own homes), the people who use the service say why Virgin Care won the bid and what matters to them most as patients and carers. A fantastic and emotive way of helping counter any controversy associated with the outcome of the tender.


The pair of sold out, energetic events run by NHS Employers this year in Leeds and London all about how to use social media in the NHS were absolutely standout in 2016. Catch up with them on the hashtag: #NHSgetsocial. The level of interest in the events and the motivation of the attendees showed the NHS is beginning to pick up the gauntlet of doing excellent online communications and engagement. From the people we met at the conferences, 2017 looks set to be the year of the move from broadcast to two-way engagement online in many an NHS organisation and team.

Inflatable MRI

We end with a simple idea – introduce children to the potentially scary MRI via an inflatable life-size model! Apparently the level of interest from this one tweet has seen orders rise. A great example of how social media can help spread best practice.

So that’s a wrap folks! If there are any other examples you’d like to share drop them in the comments.

All that’s left is for us to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a happy and healthy New Year and say thanks to those of you (clerical admin, medical, nursing, AHP, estates, the whole team) who will be keeping the NHS going over the festive season. Thank you!

Alex & Will

Would you use Workplace by Facebook instead of your emails?

Facebook has launched Workplace in a bid to replace emails and create internal social networks for organisations across the world. What do you think?


#nhssm training kicks off with creating great video content

How to create great video with your smartphone

3rd November 2016, Launceston, Cornwall, 10am to 4pm. £159 +VAT

Email to book your place!

We’re very excited to announce the first in a series of #nhssm training sessions to be run over the next 12 months.

We want to bring the training to you instead of asking you to travel to the cities. That’s why we’ve picked Launceston, Cornwall as the location of our first course in the series: How to create great video with your smartphone. This the majority of people in the South West access to training within a maximum 2 hours travel by car.

We’re working hard on building up the series and are always interested in what the #nhssm community wants to learn about. If you have any suggestions please do email Keep an eye out for further updates on the next courses over the coming weeks.

You can find out all about the video course on our Training page and book by emailing

We hope to see you at one of our training sessions soon!

Pre read: 7th September chat – “How has social media use in the NHS changed since 2010?”

#nhssm is back with our first monthly chat on 7th September! Here’s your pre-read for the upcoming chat…

Nostalgia can be a dangerous siren. It can leave you harking back to the good old days refusing to face new ways of communicating with our publics… buuuut we couldn’t resist so we’ve a nostalgic first chat back 😀

How has social media use in the NHS changed since 2010?

What’s better, what’s worse and what hasn’t changed?

Here are a few ways we see the social media landscape has changed over the last six years:

Proliferation of platforms

Back in 2010 it the NHS was concentrating on Facebook and Twitter* as the platforms of choice, and it seemed (in the most part) for the public these two platforms worked well as a way of connecting with the NHS.

In 2016 Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube remain, and have been joined by Instagram, Pinterest, Justgiving, YikYak and the explosion of chat apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger and Viber to name a few.

This proliferation of platforms has made the job of managing an organisation’s reputation and proactively engaging with the NHS’ publics more difficult. Communications and Engagement teams need to work out which platform suits their objectives and learn the necessary skills to use the platform to its full potential.

*LinkedIn and YouTube were about too, but we’re not certain many people have got the hang of either of those for the NHS yet.

Power to your pocket

Ah, 2010, back when Alex was rocking a HTC Desire on Android OS v2.1 (Eclair), using a single CPU and shooting video at 720p@30fps.

HTC Desire

Nowadays many of us have the power of a basic 2010 laptop in our pockets. The Sony Xperia Z5 compact has EIGHT CPUs (!) and can shoot video at 2160p@30fps, 1080p@60fps or 720p@120fps.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

This has enabled video production to come into reach of anyone with a decent smartphone. It provides NHS Communications and Engagement teams with the chance to turn around good quality video of events, improvement works and the day-to-day excellence of their organisations in short turn-around times.

This growth in the power in our pockets has come in parallel with increasing mobile data speeds. The unleashing of 4G has seen a continual rise in the consumption of picture and video based content1.

Pictures own text

In the list of new social media platforms now available you’ll notice many of them strongly focus on the use of pictures as their main content. Text is relegated to an annotation below or alongside the image(s).

Across social media platforms the stats2 show images win hands down in engagement terms over text. We’ve all seen in the last six years how the use of infographics, pictorials, GIFs and videos has grown across all sectors.

These images are often ‘rough and ready’, shot on the fly without much post-production other than a filter and a hashtag, and sent to thousands of people within seconds of them being taken.

This can prove difficult in the healthcare sector where the most appealing content is the interaction of people with people but where privacy, confidentiality, dignity and respect is, quite rightly, held in the highest regard.

As consumption of content moves more and more to images and videos, how NHS Communications and Engagement teams are able to get social friendly pictures and videos from their day-to-day will be an ongoing challenge.

7th September, 8-9pm

Come along and join us on Wednesday 7th September at 8-9pm.

We’ll be discussing the above changes and more and would love to hear how you and your organisation are meeting the challenges outlined above. But remember, the chats aren’t all about answering the questions, they are about posing them too so don’t be afraid to ask a few yourself.

See you out there!

Alex and Will

1 Ofcom – The Communications Market Report 2016 [pdf], page 175
2 Twitter users love to watch, discover and engage with video [US] and Top 5 Facebook Video Statistics for 2016 [Infographic]

Service resumed: #nhssm is back!

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Back from hibernation

For the last few months #nhssm has been in a state of hibernation, having a hiatus as our volunteers had a rest, changed jobs and led busy lives. Now that hibernation has come to an end, and much like a bear coming out from it’s cave we’re hungrier than ever!

What are we hungry for? Not brownies and chocolate mousse, but knowledge and discussion about how digital communications is, could and should be used in healthcare.

The team, now rubbing sleep from their eyes and cracking their knuckles as they set themselves at the keyboard, are a couple of names you may already know: Alex Talbott and Will Barker.

Our goal

Our goal is to help the NHS communications and engagement community have a place to discuss, learn and teach each other the particulars of using digital communications in the NHS.

Our strength lies in the community built around #nhssm and the fact we aren’t owned by one particular NHS organisation or another. Our mandate is to help the whole sector, not just an organisation or one side of the provider/commissioner split.

To do that we’re re-booting the chats and brushing off our blog post writing gloves. We’ll be running one Twitter chat a month, on the first Wednesday of every month.

Date for your diary: The first chat will be Wednesday 7th September 2016.

We want the chats to be at a convenient time for you all, so we’ve released a Twitter poll to find out what time in the evening works best. Please vote on it and retweet it.

We’ll be releasing the chat topic and a pre-reading blog post next week. In the meantime, why don’t you sign up to our WhatsApp broadcast list for a summary of healthcare social media and digital communications news and views each Thursday afternoon.

Simply add +44 (0) 7561 207 708 to your contacts and text ‘#nhssm GO!’ to it on WhatsApp. We’ll add you to the list that day. You can unsubscribe at anytime by sending ‘#nhssm STOP!’.

Until then, we’ll see you out there!

Alex and Will

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