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"We need to embrace social media or risk losing our voice"


When I asked my pulmonary rehabilitation group if there was anything missing from the programme, the group, predominately women in their late 50s, suggested a talk related to social media.

As a recent convert to Twitter, I thought it was a great idea. So one week later I was discussing the positives and dangers of the infamous hashtag.

The session developed into a vibrant discussion, in particular about blogs. I quickly felt out of my comfort zone. I’d never heard of most of the sites the group knew about or what was going on within them, so the group took charge of the laptop and projector and enthusiastically showed each other favourite sites. Without doubt, this was the best pulmonary rehab education and provoked a discussion with the whole group on where they sourced help and information.

The world is changing and patients are using social media as a tool to cope with the physical and emotional effects of respiratory diseases. As a nurse, am I keeping up and embracing this valuable source? No, I don’t think I am. The question is: am I alone? I don’t think healthcare organisations, let alone individuals, have kept up with technology as well as patients have.

Twitter and social media help me. As a nurse, I am now able to connect with other specialists, find out what others feel about topics and, if I am brave enough, join the conversations. So why haven’t I encouraged patients to exchange and engage in this brilliant wide spectrum of social media? Why have I only directed patients to traditional sites or printed factsheets from well-sourced respiratory charity sites? I could argue it is because my professional regulator has warned me of the dangers, not the benefits, or because I am too old school in my methods. Whatever the reason, I believe nurses need to embrace social media. If we don’t, we’re going to be out of the conversation and left behind. Nurses need to be involved or we will lose our voice in the discussions and debates.

As a nurse, I believe that I need to be part of this technological world, to give patients the opportunity to benefit and help to empower patients as never before. Social media gives this group a voice and the ability to take part in conversations with others. For a group who are very often isolated and without a visible voice, this is an empowering and liberating opportunity.

Interestingly, the general consensus within the pulmonary rehabilitation group was that many COPD-related blogs they had found were written by American men for men. They found them depressing and not reflective of their voice or experience of living with COPD. This triggered my thinking; it could be something I could help with. As a result of the session, I contacted a colleague who knows about blogging. She is now working with the group to help them to set up their own individual blogs, ones for British women with a positive attitude. I can’t wait to read what this brings forth. NT

Rebecca Sherrington is respiratory nurse consultant at Princess Elizabeth Hospital, Guernsey


Readers' comments (2)

  • tinkerbell

    Rebecca, sorry to gate crash, here's one victory for the 'little people', from 38 degrees that shows the power of social media.

    Great news just in. Health Minister Jeremy Hunt has been beaten in court ... AGAIN!

    In August, a judge ruled that Hunt had acted illegally by deciding to cut A&E and maternity services at Lewisham hospital. Hunt appealed the decision, and today he lost again. The court of appeal ruled that he does not have the power to implement cuts at the successful hospital. [1]

    It’s the result we’d all been hoping for, and is wonderful news for the people of Lewisham and the 38 Degrees members who chipped in to help fund the legal challenge.

    When the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign decided to take Jeremy Hunt to court, thousands of us from all across the UK stepped in to help. Together, chipping in whatever we could afford, we raised the £20,000 they needed to launch their legal challenge. [2]

    This isn’t just great news for Lewisham though, it’ll show Hunt he can’t break the law and get away with it. If he’d have got away with cutting services here, then no hospital would have been safe.

    Rosa Curling from law firm Leigh Day, who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital Group said: "We are absolutely delighted with the Court of Appeal's decision today. It confirms what the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign has been arguing from the start - that the Secretary of State did not have the legal power to close and downgrade services at Lewisham Hospital."

    "This expensive waste of time for the government should serve as a wake up call that they cannot ride roughshod over the needs of the people.” [3]

    So lets make sure we remember the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign’s victory and everyone who’s given a helping hand along the way. This is an exciting day for our campaign to save our NHS. And while the battle’s not over yet, it’s important to celebrate the victories we have.

    It’s moments like this that make it even more important that we stop the government from silencing ordinary people with the gagging law. It reminds us of the important role that campaign groups and charities play, keeping the government in check and campaigning on issues that are important. That's why we're so focussed on defeating it! [4]

    But we’re still keeping you under observation Jeremy!

    Thank you for everything you do

    Robin, Blanche, Ian and the 38 Degrees team

    PS: Why not forward this email to your friends, it’s great to spread the good news. Today’s victory shows that people power works, and that’s an incredibly important story to tell.

    You can share the news on Twitter and Facebook using the links below:
    Tweet about the victory -
    Post the story on Facebook -

    [1] BBC - Lewisham Hospital: Appeal Court overrules Jeremy Hunt
    [2] 38 Degrees blog: Update: Jeremy Hunt and the Lewisham court case:
    [3] Leigh Day Solicitors - Victory for people of Lewisham as Government appeal dismissed
    [4] 38 Degrees Blog - The gagging law

    Follow 38 Degrees on Facebook and Twitter.







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  • Tinkerbell,

    And this is the power people really have
    Well done!


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