The digital voice of Blithering
The @Blithering Twitter account, which goes live this week, promises to lift the lid on the local health service.
Each week a different patient or frontline professional will curate the account, selecting the very best health related tweets to share with @Blithering’s literally tens of followers.
The authentic grassroots community resource is the brainchild of director of digital experience and footprint engagement Martin Plackard.
He said: “Hospital beds, A&E departments and doctors are all very well, but what really matters to ordinary people is having a voice – and for a generation that grew up with Tetris and the dial-up modem, that means we have to be on the latest social media platforms.”
“@Blithering is by Blithering for Blithering”, Plackard said, promising that there would be no censorship of posts or attempts by NHS Blithering top brass to influence the content.
The Blithering comms team has produced a light touch guidance document – An Operating Framework for Social Media Engagement (Twitter Edition) 2016/17: Towards Spontaneity – but “compliance is optional”, Plackard said.
“This initiative will fail if it is in any way seen as top down. That’s why our guest curators will be genuine frontline professionals like Dr David Rummage and Dr Liz Wanhope, plus some patients hand-picked for their ordinariness,” he said.
The CCG would only intervene to block trolls or those engaging in abusive behaviour, Plackard said.
“People need to know that this is a safe space. A lot of people are anxious about engaging on social media, so we need to reassure them that it’s never acceptable to abuse someone just because they happen to sit on the board of the local trust.”
Not everyone has welcomed the latest Blithering innovation.
Leader of the local council Alan Spume told the Argus that @Blithering was “the worst kind of tokenism, a waste of public money when services are on their knees, and arguably the most pointless and patronising idea to come out of the CCG since the Blithering Citizen Ceefax service”.
Dismissing Councillor Spume’s remarks as “nit picking”, Plackard insisted that @Blithering had been agreed only after extensive consultation with local people.
He cited the annual Blithering Involvement Survey, which asks the community how involved they feel and what more could be done to involve them. Asked to choose between the new Twitter account and a post-apocalyptic future without food, running water and access to basic services, a remarkable 98% of people opted for more social media, focus groups and surveys.
“With services under strain, people are clamouring for opportunities to work with local health leaders to co-produce integrated place-based and person-centric community facing solutions in a collaborative way”, Plackard said.
He used the example of patients facing a nine hour wait to be seen in A&E. “Instead of looking at a three year-old copy of Heat magazine or shouting at reception staff, people will now be able to share their constructive ideas for service improvement via @Blithering.”
The NHS is 68.
Digital curator: Julian Patterson