It has been a big year for the NHS. The organisation that gives a safety new of free at the point of delivery heath celebrated its 70th birthday and how people responded. This is a look at the big picture and how it took off in one corner of the UK.
by Claire Riley
If social media reach numbers equated to miles the celebration of the NHS at 70 would have got us to the moon and back more than 50 times. But don’t be fooled in to thinking that this was only a NHS birthday celebration as many have gone before….this was not a ‘Rainbow on roses and whiskers on kittens….’ moment. This was, and still remains to be, a social movement that extends well beyond the boundaries of a quick puff at a few candles and the liberation of a party popper or two.
Social media has enabled people to be mobilised in a far more meaningful way through the ability to engage and tell their own personal stories - all in support of the NHS, it’s values, beliefs and purpose for being.
Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves:
· 12,300,000 reach #ilovetheNHS film thunderclap
· 150,000 people took part in the ‘park run for the NHS’
· 300,000 uses of #NHS70 over the week of the birthday – 200,000 of which during the 24 hrs of the birthday
· 35,000 staff entered sports competitions – that we know of
· Over 5000+ NHS Big 7Teas raising awareness and cash for charities
· 4,000 staff and partners attending celebrations at Westminister Abbey and York Minister
· 200 buildings turned blue including Parliament, Blackpool Tower and for us further up north Tyne Bridge, Berwick Bridge and Penshaw Monument!
And this is just a snapshot of the activity that happened up and down the country.
What the numbers don’t however show are the stories and moving tributes staff, patients, public and celebrities shared, and continue to share, about how proud they are of the NHS and its committment to a free at the point of use healthcare system.
Those 7Teas weren’t just 70 cups of tea. They represented thousands of people positively engaged in and around the NHS – from school children to the older and wiser generation, the latter of which remembering a time when they or their families had to pay for healthcare… a time before cancer could be cured… a time when emergency medicine just didn’t exist as it does now…yet still remain to be amazed that people can see into the inner workings of the human body…..and still uniquely aware that all generations need to protect, cherish and use NHS services wisely!
NHS70 in Northumbria
For us in Northumbria Healthcare it was an opportunity to celebrate our great NHS with staff, patients and public – and we certainly did celebrate. With community groups and dance troupes joining our staff and patients all week… there wasn’t a dry eye in the house …..every day. Afternoon tea and dance displays were supported by our charity – we had patients from the wards join us, some were initially in two minds to do so, but they were certainly pleased they did – toes tapping, teas drank and cakes ate – thousands of cakes ate! I am sure our public health and diabetes specialists even participated, it was a special occasion after all! We also used it as an opportunity to engage about the #futureNHS and the challenges it continues to face … asking people to look to the future with us …
As for the media across the country…….it isn’t often we thank the media – but on this occasion we should. Their support, interest and enthusiasm to get involved in this movement was unprecedented – well done!
But let’s also give a thought to all of the communications professionals across the NHS who made this happen – with a very special mention to Antony Tiernan and his team at NHS England whose passion and enthusiasm mobilised us all – making it much more than a birthday celebration but an opportunity to engage hundreds of thousands of people in what’s great about the NHS and why, at 70, the NHS remains to be young in its lifetime and, unlike humans, its lifespan is beyond that of any individual. The values of the NHS sit within the fabric of the UK and woe betide anyone who dares to say otherwise.
Claire Riley is Director of Communications and Corporate Affairs at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.