Nurses and midwives were leading influencers at the Health and Care Innovation Expo - and many of them didn't even attend the conference! They achieved this by joining in with the tweet chat that was held at the same time as the main stage session Nursing and Midwifery Workforce 50 Minute Challenge.

The image below is from Symplur (which monitors healthcare related hashtags on social media) detailing activity from the #Expo18NHS hashtag on the morning of Thursday 6 September, which is when the concurrent main stage session and chat took place.

I'm really proud to see a number of of our Perceptions Ambassadors listed amongst the leading influencers for this prestigious national conference.

The tweet chat focused on decision makers (those in traditional, hierarchical power), asking what they understand about the challenges facing nurses and midwives in their organisation; how they can give nurses and midwives a voice to address those challenges; and what nurses and midwives need to do in order to influence health and social care policy development at a national and government level. 

Nurses and midwives who joined in with the chat were generous with their thoughts, feedback, and ideas. You can read a sample of the tweets in the panel on the right-hand side of this page. 

The essence of the responses was:

In order to gain respect, you need to respect yourself first. Actions to address this could include adding qualifications to your email signature and social media bio (this is the September Perceptions challenge!); understanding that no one is 'just' anything, that anyone can be a leader; and taking action, rather than only ever talking about things. This can then help bust another misconception and stereotype about midwives and nurses - that they most definitely are NOT subservient, there to be seen and not heard!

There is no rule to say that a front-line nurse or midwife cannot approach senior staff with their ideas! Of course, it helps that senior staff walk the wards, and make themselves known to front-line colleagues in order that they know whom to approach, and that their ideas will be listened to. This is a topic that was brought up by the panel in the main stage session too.

Decision makers need to listen when approached by front-line staff: as per the above point, those in positional power need to take the time to listen to ideas of front-line staff. And that extends beyond organisational leaders: one nurse said they'd contacted their MP, but disappointingly had received only a standard response.

As the tweet chat shows, you don't necessarily need to be in positional power, or a traditional 'senior leader' at the top of a hierarchy to have a voice, or to be an influencer. Indeed, anyone can be a leader! Social media helps to break down those traditional hierarchies so that anyone can have a voice. That said, we do need to make sure that decision makers do take the time to listen to front-line staff, and to work together. 

Together our voices are stronger.