Twitter campaign to defend the NHS

pharmafile | August 14, 2009 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing NHS, digi 

UK politicians have thrown their weight behind a Twitter campaign to defend the reputation of the NHS against increasingly virulent attacks from opponents of US healthcare reform.

The NHS was unwittingly drawn into the debate over President Obama's proposals for the US, when Republican critics branded the NHS "evil and Orwellian" and said the President's plans would lead to 'socialised healthcare'.

This prompted hundreds of responses on Twitter and ' WeLoveTheNHS' became a 'trending topic', featured on the micro-blogging service's front-page as one of the most talked about subjects.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown voiced his support for the health service via the Downing Street Twitter account, saying: "[The] NHS often makes the difference between pain and comfort, despair and hope, life and death. Thanks for always being there."

The Twitter campaign received a further boost when comments by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan on US television criticising the NHS were picked up.

But Conservative leader David Cameron rebutted these, saying the support on Twitter for the NHS was a reminder of how proud the British are of the health service.

In an email to supporters he said: "Millions of people are grateful for the care they have received from the NHS – including my own family.

"One of the wonderful things about living in this country is that the moment you're injured or fall ill – no matter who you are, where you are from, or how much money you've got – you know that the NHS will look after you."

The NHS on Twitter

The health service itself is increasingly using Twitter to connect with people, from local level institutions like the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust (one of the largest teaching trusts in the country) to the various national accounts coordinated by NHS Choices, including NHS Swine Flu News.

Earlier this month they were joined by patient helpline NHS Direct, which uses it to provide links to health news and direct users to its telephone helpline and website.

"We also use Twitter to search for people who have mentioned the words 'NHS Direct'. This means we can respond first hand to any comments, ask our fellow twitterers for feedback about the services we provide, and spread the word of the good work we're doing," the service said in a statement.

However, in the interests of patient confidentiality and to avoid any clinical risk, there are no plans for it to provide any medical information or engage in clinical conversations via Twitter – as is clearly stated on its Twitter homepage.

The service added: "The sheer number and range of people we can instantly reach across the UK with a single 'tweet' makes Twitter a very practical use of resources. For example, from the week of 20 July, one of our postings about the new National Pandemic Flu Service reached over 22,000 people."

Related stories:

Obama hits back at healthcare reform critics

August 13, 2009

Related links:



@NHSSouthampton ” TARGET=”_blank”>@OxfordRadcliffe



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