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Northumbria nurse Craig shines spotlight on NHS in Twitter takeover first

Friday, 18 November, 2016
Northumbria nurse Craig shines spotlight on NHS in Twitter takeover first

A Northumbria nurse working on the frontline in emergency care is to become the voice of the NHS next week and speak to thousands of people via Twitter.

Craig Leathard, charge nurse at The Northumbria hospital in Cramlington, is to take control of @NHS from Monday 21 to Friday 25 November and share his experiences of caring for patients in one of the largest and busiest emergency departments in the North East.

Launched last month, @NHS is a pioneering new initiative to shine the spotlight and celebrate the NHS through the voices of the people on its frontline. Each week it sees a different NHS patient or member of its 1.3million staff become curator over a three-month pilot and report first-hand.

Craig is the first person from the region to be at the helm of @NHS – a UK first. Beginning his career in the NHS at the age of 17 on a Youth Training Scheme, Craig has risen through the ranks with the help and support of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Outside his role as a nurse, he is the driving force behind The Calendar Lads – so-called because they bared all for a calendar in 2013 – which has raised thousands of pounds for Northumbria Healthcare’s Bright charity and other good causes.

Craig, from Ashington, said: “I’m over the moon to be the voice of the NHS and really looking forward to sharing my experiences of working on the frontline with more than 7,000 followers on Twitter.

“As a trust, social media is a vital part of our engagement with local communities and staff so it’s fitting that we’re one of the first organisations to take part in this exciting new initiative.

“Staff working in the NHS have fascinating stories to tell and @NHS will really give a snapshot of what life is like in the NHS here in Northumberland.

“Every day working in emergency care at The Northumbria is different, it can be challenging but I can honestly say I love my job. Working on the frontline, you get to see and experience so much and even though I’ve been in the NHS for 26 years now, I continue to learn and develop every day.

“My aim and my passion are, and always have been, to be there for people when they need me, helping to turn a distressing and traumatic situation into a positive one for every patient I meet. Being able to do that is definitely the most rewarding part of being a nurse and I hope I can portray some of that passion in my tweets.”

@NHS follows in the footsteps of @sweden and @ireland, which hand over the reins to their government accounts to a different citizen each week.

Jane Cummings, chief nursing officer for England, who visited Northumbria Healthcare last week to meet nurses and midwives, believes @NHS is a ‘fantastic opportunity’.

She said: “The NHS is a complex institution that touches all our lives but often we only read about it in headlines on the front page of a newspaper.  This is a fantastic opportunity for our much-valued patients and NHS staff to hold a magnifying glass up to the system, so we can learn from their experiences, as we continue with our ambition to improve the way that care is delivered.”

Rob Owers, head of news and government partnerships at Twitter UK, said: “This is such a great initiative from the NHS. From patients to paramedics, the people taking control of the account will be sharing powerful stories and experiences that others will be able to relate to and empathise with.”

Follow @NHS on Twitter to hear Craig’s experiences from the frontline and tips and advice on using NHS services wisely this winter.

@NHS curators will have sole control of the account and will be able to share their thoughts and opinions and engage in conversations with anyone on Twitter.