An inconvenient break in transmission
You may have noticed that there will soon be a general election.
This is important but inconvenient for people with websites and newsletters to be getting on with, but there is nothing we can do about it.
What it means for NHS Networks is that news between now and 6 May will be strictly factual. It also means that the editorial, which is transformed through the magic of the Internet to become the editor’s blog will need to tuned out until the second week in May.
In its place we will run anything factual and interesting that escapes the censor’s blue pencil.
We will also continue to bring you service announcements about the new website. If you’re not a member of any networks or have not started one, then we urge you to take a look.
Free web space
If you are in the process of setting up a network you’ll probably need a website and you can get web space on NHS Networks free of charge. We’ve also made it possible to develop your site – set up sections, add new content – in a matter of minutes. All of which saves you a lot of time and a lot of money.
We still hear from networks being quoted huge sums of money by commercial developers for quite simple sites – and this is no time to be spending public money when it can be avoided.
Networks with existing websites should still set up a profile page on the new site because it provides another route for potential members to find you.
Easy to manage networks
Free web pages are a by-product of our real mission, which is to promote the spread of effective networking within and beyond the NHS. We are encouraging networks to get all their members registered (name, email address – how much easier can we make it?) because once they are all online, you can keep in touch with them with regular newsletters, set up forums, start blogs, share documents and so on.
The real thing
Great as it is, the technology is only a means to an end. The real value that flows from networks is the sharing of intelligence, the spread of good practice and the collaboration of people who want to make a difference – stop us if you’ve heard all this before, but we think it’s important.
Success depends entirely on building a big community of interest and enabling the smaller communities within it to form connections with others. This is why we urge anyone thinking about starting a network to use the search tools on the site to make sure there isn’t already one they could join. It’s also why we provide facilities for networks to affiliate with others (rather like ‘friends’ on facebook) and why we’re working on other ways for networks to form temporary and permanent ties.
Open versus closed
NHS people can be shy about doing things in public – and that’s understandable. Modesty, insecurity or competitiveness can cause us to huddle in small, familiar groups keeping ideas to ourselves. When networks become inward-looking they can become counter-productive. This is why we are keen to promote open networks wherever possible. There are realistic limits to openness, though. As much as people need to be able to choose networks, networks need to be able to choose their members. NHS Networks allows for open and controlled membership networks to be created. You can also set up open forums, secure private forums and various hybrids of the two.
Administrators should be aware that when networks were moved from the old site, we set their status as ‘open’. That means anyone who applies to join the network will automatically become a member. If you want to be able to vet membership, you need to change the status to ‘apply to join’. This is explained fully in the newly expanded online help section, but feel free to contact our support people if it’s not clear.
To find out more about the thinking behind the new site, read the press release. Please don’t be shy about telling us what you think of the site and what else you would like to see.
See also David Nicholson’s letter to the NHS explaining what’s expected of us in the run-up to the election.