Back in June 2017, I was invited to be the curator of the @NHS account on Twitter for a week. The account is owned by NHS England and each week a health professional or patient shares their NHS story. It was an ideal opportunity to showcase the work of a dietitian on the account with 19,000 followers! I was encouraged to take lots of photos during the week to engage the followers. Here is a compilation of the photos and clips I took over the week.

I hope you enjoy, Louise x

While working through my emails I came across one from the BDA asking if I would be willing to hold the @NHS Twitter handle for Dietitians week. How exciting, a chance to highlight the work of dietitians and the field of Inherited Metabolic Disorders (IMD). My first thought was that I had better check with my manager and the hospital communications team! I expected a lot of questions from communications but they were very supportive and pleased I had been asked. NHS England uses the Twitter account to highlight the week of a health professional or patient from the NHS each week. Previous to myself there had been paramedics, nurses, doctors, but this was the first time a dietitian would hold the account.

The aim is to be on the Twitter account from Monday to Friday tweeting about day to day life working in the NHS. At first I was a bit worried as I only work part time, what would I tweet about on my days off? NHS England reassured me that people like to see the personal side too! My first task was to write a plan for the week. I decided to include general dietetic issues such as working in a hospital and malnutrition and then towards the end of the week talk more about my speciality of IMD and specifically Phenylketonuria (PKU). I then had a teleconference with NHS England, my hospital communications and the BDA. I went through my plan and had a safety briefing, this included the importance of not tweeting out any clinical information and what to do if challenged. I was also given a list of ‘trolls’ to look out for by the BDA and advised not to interact with them!

I had a few weeks before my week so I started to take useful photos around the hospital. I persuaded some of my colleagues to pose with supplements and diet sheets and found feeding tubes and bags of feeds to photograph. I was all ready to go for Dietitians Week when we had to change the date as the general election resulted in a hung parliament. The rules meant that individuals could not be on the account during election time and this included a hung parliament. It was pushed back a couple of weeks, which in hindsight was much better for me as Dietitians Week was busy!

Monday morning came and NHS England set me up with some intro tweets and then I was in charge at 8.30am. Luckily IT had given me permission to use Twitter on my desk top which was a great help and I started tweeting about the role of a dietitian. At lunch time I headed over to the dietetic department to persuade the dietitians to pose while eating their lunch and then to try and persuade someone to take me up to the wards with them and take photos! Luckily I had one willing volunteer. Trying to take photos without any patients or clinical information was tricky. I had to use virtual stickers on the photos to cover information up. At the beginning of the week, I had a couple of texts from NHS England saying to check some of the photos and re do them with stickers on!

I’m afraid I didn’t get as much work done as usual that week. Scheduling and tweeting live stories and answering all the questions. I had to wade through all the @NHS mentions and pick out the questions or replies meant for me and answer them. My home life suffered too, my children’s dinner was late one night and they were late to bed as I was madly trying to answer the tweets before the 8 pm cut off. It was very time consuming and I am glad it was only for one week.

I did enjoy the week and it was fun taking photos and videos of what my fellow dietitians and I were up to. I am happy to say I didn’t have any trolling! I had lots of lovely encouraging messages from other dietitians and members of the public. This included messages from the public saying how great their dietitians had been and how much they had helped them. 🙂