Posted by: ayrshirehealth | August 31, 2012

Why does blogging work? – A Highland View by @nhshem

Dear AyrshireHealth

I’m jealous of your blog.  No, I mean really jealous.  Why didn’t we think of it, or get our act together in time to do it first

Now I will have to just steal the idea and put our own name to it.  The Highland Blog – it definitely has a ring to it.

So why does blogging work?

It increasingly seems to be a way to get people to communicate about things that they are passionate about, in the hope that others will take the time to look, see and even respond.  It makes people pick out things that they may not normally consider, and help them to think out of their normal areas of comfort.

In doing so it connects people in a way that is honest and open, engendering a spirit where people are more prepared to put themselves in a position of direct criticism or even conflict.

Yet sharing our thoughts and views with other like minded curious people has both a comfort and a challenge which can be missed when working in big and complex organisations, often compromised or weakened by hierarchy.

The NHS in Scotland for example – a brand everyone has a view on- is made up by many individual institutions with their own unique characteristics, coming together in peoples minds as one service.

This is precious to us all, and the current need to change is challenging some of our fundamental views and inevitably our behaviours.

So here’s the dilemma.  NHS Scotland must radically transform in order to meet the future needs of the population – including you and me, our families and friends as well as the rest of the people of Scotland.

Pursuing the triple aims of delivering better quality of care, better population health and lower costs will be challenging but vital in the current economic climate and demographic environment.

For years we have been taking taxpayer’s money and using it to provide increasingly high tech services, with a focus on hospitals, making people better and giving assurance about a job well done.  We will now need to explain why we need to do things differently and may expose ourselves to criticism.

The description and desire to provide safer services, makes people suddenly aware that maybe what we were doing before was not as ‘safe’ as they had thought…….and all of this feels uncomfortable when you are responsible for delivery.


Turning the super-tanker that is the NHS in Scotland will not be easy and will need skilled, passionate, enthusiastic and confident leadership.  We will need to be more open and transparent about how we communicate, genuinely wanting to listen.  

Using new types of engagement will be necessary including social media like Facebook, You-tube, Twitter and blogs like this.

My view is that the more we can be transparent about the NHS and how it works, the better we can help people understand why it needs to change, encouraging them to become involved in shaping the future.

Closing the inequality gap

As far back now as 2005, Kerr described the new model of care in Building a Health Service fit for the future, which should act as comfort that we are on the right track.  Services that are geared towards long-term conditions embedded in communities, provided by teams who encourage and facilitate self care with the patient as a partner will be key.  Continuous care as part of an integrated health and social care system is vital to success, with carers and families recognised and supported as partners in that care.  Forget to keep current people healthy at our peril, and preventing the burden of health needs for the future by genuinely closing the inequalities gap will need to be the new focus.  The effective future use of new technologies both within and outwith our hospitals, linking people together will be the key to our success.

The Institute of Health Improvement have been working closely with NHS Scotland to support, in particular, the Scottish Patient Safety programmes:

– unquestionably one of the most ambitious collaborative safety programmes in the world adopting the Institute of Medicine’s six improvement aims for the health care system:

Safety, Effectiveness, Patient-Centeredness, Timeliness, Efficiency, and Equity.

Their “No Needless List” is a helpful reminder to us all of our ambition that there will be:

  • No needless deaths
  • No needless pain or suffering
  • No helplessness in those served or serving
  • No unwanted waiting
  • No waste
  • No one left out

So this is a really important conversation.  We know what we need to do, and we know what the people of Scotland should be able to expect.  Bringing these needs together will require focus and engagement and, most importantly, the building of trust across the whole community.  We need to open ourselves up to scrutiny and criticism.  We need to have broad shoulders, and prepared with real answers.  This will force the very different way of thinking and working necessary to get very different results. Everyone working in leadership roles in the NHS will need to show greater humility and courage.

In Highland, as across the whole of Scotland, we have started on this exciting journey.

It is already proving far from easy but it both an enormous privilege and responsibility to be able to help to shape the future of care in this country.

I encourage you all to take an active role.

Thank you for inviting me to post my ramblings.

I hope that they generate some genuine debate, and look forward to following the improvement journey in Ayrshire on this blog and through other social media.

Elaine Mead

Chief Executive

NHS Highland


References used:

Bisognano, M (2012) Persuing the Triple Aim Jossey-Bass

Kerr (2005) Building a health service fit for the future Scottish Government Publications

Next weeks blog comes from Diane Murray, Assistant Director for clinical improvement and patient safety: NHS Ayrshire & Arran


  1. […] Why does blogging work? – A Highland View by Elaine Mead, guest blogger on the Ayrshire Health blog. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestMoreEmailRedditPrintDiggStumbleUponTumblrLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. This entry was posted in blogging, communicating, digital technology, health, health services, leadership, social media, working practices and tagged collaboration, NHS Highland, NHS Scotland, Scottish Patient Safety Programme by weeklyblogclub. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  2. […] there seems nothing to stop others from doing it. Elaine Mead, Chief Executive of NHS Highland, in Why does blogging work? – A Highland View wrote about how she wished that she had thought of blogging as Ayrshire Health do. She sees social […]

  3. […] can be ‘scary people’, so no wonder patients are reluctant to question them face-to-face;  Chief Executive Elaine Mead agreed that social media is opening exciting new avenues for involving people, and on their own […]

  4. […] I started in post some three years ago our CEO Elaine Mead (@nhshem) and Chair Garry Coutts (@GarryCoutts) wanted to see more pro-active communications and […]

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