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Midweek message from Lisa Rodrigues CBE, Chief Executive: 14 May 2013

Lisa_Rodrigues018_2Dear Friends

Rather than my usual message (or blog as people like to call it), this week I am writing about using social media as part of #NHSEngage.

#NHSEngage is led by NHS Employers to broaden understanding of the benefits of social media in the NHS and help us engage better with our own people, patients, partners and the public. It is about how social media can be a force for good on many topics.

Social media isn’t just about Facebook and LinkedIn – other products are available. It includes weekly messages, or blogs, which a growing number of us write, comment pieces in online journals, and in my case, Twitter. These are some of the questions people often ask me about my use of social media.

  1. What is the difference between your weekly message and a press release? Lots, I hope. For a start, it’s in my own words. It is about what I am thinking. It builds on what people have been saying to me and my senior team in the previous week about the things that matter most to us. And it is eclectic – some facts, some theory, some heartfelt stuff. We use Twitter and our website to promote it.
  2. Do you honestly write the messages yourself? Yes, every single word – the people in my office and our communications team will vouch for this! A blog has to be in your own words.
  3. Why honestly did you start blogging and take to Twitter? Because I could see that the world was changing fast, and I didn’t want Sussex Partnership, or me, to get left behind. And I believe that leaders should lead by example.
  4. How do you separate the personal from the professional, for example, when tweeting about Brighton and Hove Albion FC? I don’t, because you can’t. I am Lisa Rodrigues, Chief Executive, but I am also @LisaSaysThis i.e. a human being with wide interests and aspirations. I am entitled to a private life, but I also know that people will always view me in the professional role I occupy. This is the price one pays for the privilege of senior public office. Blogging and tweeting help me to show who I am and what I think matters most.
  5. How do you feel about staff blogging and tweeting? We want more of them to do it! If they have something interesting to say which will promote debate, we actively encourage it – we have some extremely talented writers, with some very thoughtful views. All I ask is that they follow the normal rules of decency and courtesy, and get advice if they need it.
  6. Which organisations have taken best to social media so far, in your opinion? One would never have guessed this in advance, but I think the police generally, and Sussex Police in particular. They are extremely permissive, and that makes for more interesting tweets, blogs and comments.    
  7. Do you talk to patients on Twitter? Every single person in the UK is potentially a patient, so obviously I do! And those who use Sussex Partnership’s services are just people like anyone else. What I don’t do is use social media to enter into specific discussions with those in need of urgent help or who have a concern, as it might breach their own or someone else’s confidentiality. Instead, I ask them to email or give us a call, and we take it from there.
  8. What about staff who aren’t happy or who may be whistleblowers? There have been a few who have approached me via social media. One was a person who had some very serious concerns which we addressed by having a meeting very quickly. Another made allegations about colleagues but when I looked into it, had been dismissed for gross misconduct which was upheld on appeal.
  9. How do you find time to do all this blogging and tweeting? I see it as part of the job of a leader to know what is going on and to communicate. Social media is two-way, it keeps you in touch and is much better than broadcasting a message and just hoping someone will see it. It actually saves me time.
  10. Why do you send the same message to your staff as you do to partners and the public? Our 5,000 people are also patients, partners and the public, and they all live in the same world. If we have a problem, it will get out anyway, so why not be open about it and explain what we are doing to resolve it. And similarly, if something good has happened, we want everyone to know, rather than hiding our light under a bushel.

I have written about this subject before. This HSJ article explains why I started using social media http://www.hsj.co.uk/opinion/social-media-for-nhs-dummies/5047834.article And this one explains why I think senior executives should try Twitter: http://www.ahcm.org.uk/index.php/component/content/article/1593-why-you-should-be-convincing-your-ceo-and-senior-executives-to-take-to-twitter

With thanks to @NHSE_Dean who asked me to write this. Back to my more usual message style next week.


From the office of Lisa Rodrigues CBE, Chief Executive
Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust,
Arundel Road,
West Sussex BN13 3EP
Telephone 01903 843029
Email: lisa.rodrigues@sussexpartnership.nhs.uk