Last week I spent a day in Bridgend meeting the people behind some exciting communications projects in the local health boards and Welsh Government.
I’m part-Welsh, have family in Wales and enjoy spending time there, so I never need too much of an excuse to point my car towards the M4.
I met a group of people who represent a large proportion of the total communications expertise available to NHS Wales. And they produce a lot of good work.
I had been invited to share some examples of the digital engagement work being done at BIS, and during my time at Department of Health. I pulled together some examples, had a think about how to make it useful to the people who would be there, and was careful to acknowledge the fact that resources are very, very limited and no-one was a digital specialist.
In the end, I think it was me who came away more impressed.
One example that particularly stood out was the active engagement undertaken by the (bear with me) Abertawe Bro Morgannwg Health Board who regularly respond to local media coverage, publicly, in the comments field of local newspapers, and without shying away from the difficult coverage.
And if you haven’t had a look at the Welsh Blood Service’s campaigns, do. The #rollupyoursleeve campaign may not yet have yielded the level of response Kate is aiming for, but as an example of trying something thoughtful and putting real energy into it, I reckon it is brilliant.
There was also good evidence to support the work that 1000 Lives Plus has done to coordinate internal communications channels, to help improve patient outcomes. I’ve seen communication projects costing much more, supported by many more people, with less direct results than those that were presented.
On the downside, the teams in Wales face familiar issues around blurring lines between personal and professional online boundaries, outdated IT and associated policy, and in some areas little or no coverage from mobile carriers, let alone 3G or broadband. Digital won’t be able to solve all their communication challenges.
The 1000 Lives project publish some useful resources online. Take a look and if you are interested in finding out more, drop Andrew or Jon a line. Next time someone tells you they don’t have the resources to deliver some useful digital engagement, look West.