Communicating with you

Head of communications Ross Wigham talks about how his team supports the NHS in Gateshead by making sure people can access information about their local hospital.

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

From working with the media to support news crews and TV filming, to communicating with local people on social media about their NHS experience, the role is ever expanding and fast paced.

Essentially we are here to make sure that as a local NHS Trust we are able to engage with patients, local communities, staff and anybody else with an interest in our services and how we provide them. It’s vital 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 their care and how they use our services.

Previously, the role was very focused on working with the media and writing things like newsletters but now there are many more communications channels for the public to use. Social media is now one of the most popular ways of connecting with us as an organisation and on average each month see more than 8,000 engagements take place on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

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. Over the years this has moved on from just written information to include things like videos, animations, blogs, picture galleries or even virtual tours of the parts of the hospital that they will be visiting.

Communicating with our own staff is another very important part of the job to ensure they have been consulted on important issues and understand the strategic direction of the organisation and the NHS nationally.

At a time of significant change and challenge right across the NHS good communications have never been more important and in Gateshead we want to provide excellent communications so that patients, local people, staff and health partners all have complete confidence in our services.

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 sense of purpose and pride. Whether it’s recognising the work of frontline staff through our Gateshead Angels campaign, helping patients get to the right place for treatment in winter, seeing an increase in people getting the flu jab, supporting the recruitment of nurses or raising awareness of specific conditions, good communications is increasingly playing an important part in connecting the NHS with all its publics.

To find out more about careers in NHS communications click here.

Read more about communications in Gateshead click here

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