This week I have had the huge honour of being one of the first nurses (and indeed people) to tweet from inside one of the Health Committee meetings in Westminster Palace. I have to say that I was really quite overwhelmed by the whole experience but rather than rambling on I shall start this story from the beginning:
A few months ago WeNurses were approached by Public Information and Outreach Service at the Houses of Parliament and since then both WeNurses and the Public Information and Outreach Service have been working hard to make Nurses tweeting from the House of Commons #NursesAtHoC a reality. This all came to fruition this week when I hopped on a train to London and headed for Westminster. It was wonderful to be able to invite another nurse along too and after thinking long and hard about this we decided to ask CareMaker and newly qualified nurse Claire Flatt (@MrsCFlatt) – hoping that this would provide some diversity and differing perspectives to our tweets.
And so, on a very rainy Wednesday, Claire and I met under Big Ben and waved umbrella’s at each other, both of us very excited about the opportunity ahead. We first had to go through some security and both Claire and I having never been inside the Houses of Parliament before were pretty much in awe. As soon as we got through security we were met by a lovely lady, Lucy, who then took us into the beautiful Westminster Palace and up and into the Health Committees meeting room. Lucy was very knowledgeable about the history of the buildings and kept us extremely informed throughout our visit and she was very welcoming and supportive throughout our visit. With great foresight Lucy had warned us that a bell may go off at any point in the proceedings to call members to vote – and we hadn’t long sat down when this happened. After Claire and I exchanged an initial confused look we realised what the bell was and used the short adjournment to just collect ourselves and our initial thoughts.
The meeting soon re-convened and got straight down to business. The committee were listening to evidence about long term conditions and it was great to see representatives from organisations such as The Patients Association, Diabetes UK and The Royal College of Psychiatrists and hear their perspectives and stories.
I won’t go into the ins and outs of the evidence given but if you want to view the whole event you can via this link (Claire and I are sat at the back on the left) and you can read my and Claires tweets from the meeting in the embedded Storify of the tweets below. I do however have a few observations and lessons learnt from this experience:
- People in Parliament care – it was clear from the questions being asked and the responses being made that even though we may feel that Parliament is far removed from our practice they do listen, they do care and the relationship is not as far removed as we might think.
- Evidence is king – we talk so much about bringing evidence into our practice that we often forget that evidence can be used to make changes beyond our own practice. It was great to see that not only was data used as evidence but also that patient stories and case studies were held in high regard.
- We are all concerned about the same things – It was reassuring to realise that the discussions being held were things that were relevant to me as a nurse and things that I am concerned about. There is a lot of discussion around currently about a common purpose and it was great to realise that this common purpose is radiating throughout the system.
- One nurse can make a difference – throughout the afternoon we tweeted snippets from the discussions taking place and it was both exciting and humbling to see responses and discussions coming through via Twitter.
I count myself very privileged to have been allowed to do this and would have to encourage others to take this opportunity to share information with the #nursecommunity in this way. Social media is all about breaking down sharing information, ideas and expertise regardless of boundaries and hierarchies and the opportunity to do this at this level is one that should be embraced. Both Claire and I came out of Westminster with our heads and phones buzzing and incredibly excited for the next nurses who get to do this.
@WeNurses would like to thank the @HouseOfCommons Digital Outreach Team and the Health Select Committee for this wonderful offer to experience, learn and share this often unseen but vital process in providing care.
The Health Select Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the policy, administration and expenditure of the Department of Health and its associated bodies. To find out more information about the committee’s current inquiries please visit http://www.parliament.uk