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Claire Riley talks about communications and engagement in the NHS and how it’s been even more important during this global pandemic.

Wednesday, 14 October, 2020
Claire Riley talks about communications and engagement in the NHS and how it’s been even more important during this global pandemic.

Working in NHS communications can be a fascinating and rewarding job where no two days are the same.


This has been even more important in the last eight months as we’ve seen a huge increase in the need for clear communications about Covid19.


Among other things our team is responsible for making sure the organisation is able to engage with patients, staff, local communities, governors, members and anybody else with an interest in our services and how we provide them.


This pandemic has shown just how vital it is that people can access the right level of information about the NHS in the way that’s most convenient for them, especially when it comes to their care and how they use our services.


This includes all sort of different things such as working with the media to support news crews and TV filming, communicating with local people on social media about their NHS experience and providing useful information in a range of other ways.


During recent times especially, it’s been so important to have clear and consistent messages to provide guidance that NHS staff can follow. This has been particularly challenging given the rapidly changing national picture during Covid19.


Now more than ever the role is fast paced and challenging as NHS Trusts across the country grapple with a dynamic and at times unprecedented situation. Here in Northumbria communications and engagement works at a really strategic level providing advice and guidance to the top of the organisation.


Communicating with our own staff is another very important part of the job to ensure they have been consulted on important issues and have all the right information to help them do their jobs effectively.


Previously, this sort of role was just focused on working with the media and writing things like newsletters, but now there are many more communications channels for people to use.


Much of our time now is spent on creating things like videos, animations or infographics that help us communicate with the public or our staff and social media is now one of the most popular ways of connecting with the organisation.


In fact, we see as many as 50,000 engagements a month taking place on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the volume of communications taking place during the pandemic rising rapidly.


Maintaining and updating the organisations website is also very important so patients and families can access practical information about our hospital and community services, but also understand more about their condition or the treatment they may need.


Our work also ensures the organisation can work effectively with the governors and members who play such an important role in making the trust run successfully. The NHS charity Bright also sits within our team and another blog about their work will be coming soon.


At a time of significant change and challenge for the whole country we’ve seen that good communications have never been more important and in Northumbria we’re committed to making sure patients, local people, staff and health partners all feel involved and engaged.


At such a difficult time it’s very rewarding when you see the direct impact of the work you do with patients or on frontline services and it gives you a real sense of purpose and pride. A huge thank you to whole communications team and all our Northumbria colleagues working so hard to keep us all safe.