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Updates from the community managers at NHS Choices talk
  • Hi all

    We've had quite a few new bloggers join us recently, writing interesting, colourful and illuminating posts about their lives. One of the things I know can frustrate and puzzle people is comments on the blogs - and the lack of them. So I wanted to reassure old and new bloggers that just because there may be no comments, doesn't mean there are no readers. The same frustrating technical glitch that means you have to use Firefox in order to post your blogs also affects comments. We're trying to fix this with the 'help' of Micrsoft - as it's Internet Explorer that is the main problem - but it's taking time. And in my experience, even the best posts sometimes don't get lots of comments. It can be quite a random thing.

    There are some things you can do to help you get more comments though. Here's 3.

    1. Ask a question. And do it in the headline of your blog. The more direct questions you ask & the more visible these questions are, the more likely you are to get a response.

    2. Link to other content & talk about it. If you give an opinion on something, there's bound to be someone out there desperate to agree or disagree with you.

    3. Comment on other people's posts yourselves. The more you comment on others', the more they're likely to comment on yours.

    Hope that helps. And if you've got any questions, put them in the comment box below & I'll endeavour to answer


  • Display of forum and blog posts

    by JCR21 on 02 October 2009

    We've set up the carers community and Black History Month forums this week and in doing so we can see that if they're as successful as we hope, they're going to have quite an impact on the home page. This is because each post on these forums is showing as a separate entry and thus rather drowns out the blogs. We're looking into this & hope to have it sorted soon. In the meantime, please bear with us and don't be discouraged if your blog disappears off the talk home page rather quickly.

    One way of getting round it, of course, is to blog constantly. That'll get round it! ;-)

  • Mental health/depression blog

    by JCR21 on 11 September 2009

    You may have noticed a change on the site, with the depression blog being renamed as mental health. This has come about after we were contacted by a potential blogger wanting to write about her obsessive compulsive disorder. Rather than set up a new section, we took the view it would be better to widen the depression area to cover other mental health conditions.

    Writers can still tag their posts and users can still search using these tags, so we hope it won't cause any confusion or irritation. But if it has, let us know and we'll reconsider. In the meantime, if you've bookmarked the depression page you'll need to amend it from to

  • Today has been a day of technology troubles, the most frustrating of which has been the breakdown of the email service. It's been teetering for the past couple of weeks but now seems to have given up the ghost - just at the time when the IT man who deals with it has taken a week off. Sigh... Anyway, I've set up a temporary alternative email address at so if you need to get in touch please use that one for the time being. When we've sorted the other one out, we'll revert back.

  • I've only been working here at for just over 3 weeks but today has made me truly understand what a remarkable organisation I've joined. For those of you not glued to Twitter - or who haven't seen the media stories yet - there has been a huge, orchestrated campaign on the micro-blogging site in which thousands have praised the NHS for being there for them.

    It was kick-started by comments in a US magazine that Stephen Hawking would not be alive today if he'd been living in the UK (which he does) and treated by the NHS (which he has been). Professor Hawking subsequently told a UK journlist that he would not be alive today if it HADN'T been for the NHS. When this was first tweeted, someone - and by my reckoning it was genius comedy writer Graham Linehan (at least he was getting the early plaudits) - added #welovethenhs to his tweet, encouraging others to use this hash-tag to start a campaign.

    Without going into the intricacies of twitter (on which you can follow nhschoices by the way at, this enables others on Twitter to pick it up and follow suit with their own messages, using the same #welovethenhs. This started around midday. By mid-afternoon it was the most popular subject on Twitter. By 6 when I left the office (boys to attend to, as readers of my birth-to-five blog will know) it was still going strong. And as I write from home now, it still is. NHS Choices & our colleagues at NHS Direct have picked up hundreds of Twitter followers and received dozens of supportive messages.

    To me, it's a perfect illustration of the long known phenomenon that if you ask the view of a person who has used the NHS what they think of it, they'll almost always be full of praise for the care they received. But if you ask a general question of what people think of the service, there'll be much greater scepticism. Today there were thousands of personal stories, all coming out in a rush.

    And it filled me with pride.

  • Just a quick note to apologise for the absence of navigation at the top of the talk pages (the very top one has gone completely & the main navigation is a bit random). We've got some gremlins in the system that we're trying to flush out, but rather like the cold I picked up more than 2 weeks ago they're proving hard to get rid of.


  • The NHS Choices talk blog is back open for business! I plan on posting regularly to keep you in touch with what we're doing, what we're planning and also to get your views on what else we might be able to do or what we can do better. Either in terms of new blogs, forums or content you'd find useful or the way the communities part of the site functions. So if you've got a comment to make, either leave it at the bottom or email NHS Choices Talk

    There are many videos and articles detailing real life stories dotted around the NHS Choices site, but it's only here in the communities section that people get the chance to engage with people facing the same challenges and update them on their progress. In the arthritis blog, for example, two of our bloggers have just started on Humira and are tracking their experiences on the drug. Already several people in the same situation have commented, asked questions and are following their progress. This is the kind of service the blogs area can provide.

    However, I'm aware not all of our blogs are similarly active. So, this first post is somewhat of a plea. If you have a medical condition and feel you could help others by telling your story, we'd like to hear from you. Or if you're a carer, new parent or expectant mum. And you've not got one of the conditions listed and want to write, that's not a problem. We're looking to expand the areas we cover. All you need to do is email us. And don't be intimidated. You don't need to write constantly, lengthily or in perfect Queen's English. Just enough to tell your story and keep people up to date.

    I look forward to hearing from you



  • Maternity bras

    by Caspar on 10 February 2009

    Maternity bras
    Our blogging mothers-to-be are debating the aesthetics of maternity bras.  Blogger Spells has been browsing the selection at M&S and thinks they’re planet-sized and ugly.  Do you have an opinion or advice for her?  Join in the discussion on the NHS Choices pregnancy blog.

    New videos
    There are four new videos on NHS Choices this week, which are…

    Don’t forget, you can comment on our videos and get code to post them on your own website on our YouTube page.

  • Blogs for all ages

    by Caspar on 04 February 2009

    Do you think blogging is a kids game?  Think again!  It can be done by people of all ages.

    Benbow posts on our chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) blog .  He has suffered with chest problems since 2000, including farmers’ lung.  He has been a member of his local Breathe Easy group and more recently has been giving talks about the work of the group and the British Lung Foundation who support it.  What is remarkable is Benbow turns 80 this month.

    At the other end of the spectrum, Alexis has been blogging for us about her pregnancy for the last nine months.  In mid-January, she gave birth to her second daughter Chloe.


    Our editors have been hard at work on additional NHS Guides - these provide people who are at risk of, or who suffer from a long-term condition, with clear information to help prevent or manage their illness. The new guides cover kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), prostate cancer, bowel cancer and heart failure.


    It’s the New Year and already we’re thinking about how we’re going to look in our bikini by the summer. Diets are on everyone’s mind and on the front cover of all the magazines. We all like to cut down a little after the excesses of Christmas but have you been tempted to go to extremes in the pursuit of the perfect dress size?

    A BBC programme is looking for young men and women who’ve tried a diet which has gone badly wrong: Did it seriously affect your health? Were there unfortunate side affects? Have you been put off for life or still willing to try the latest fad?

    If you're interested in taking part and have a story to tell, call 0161 244 3510 or email

  • Make a film and help save lives

    by Caspar on 24 November 2008

    Creative Review and NHS Choices want your ideas for a new series of animated public health films.

    NHS Choices and CR are giving readers the chance to develop a new animated character/s to communicate vital public health messages.

    This competition - in conjunction with Creative Review, the magazine which has showcased the best of British design talent for the past 27 years - is for the creation of a new animated character or characters to communicate vital public health messages. The winner will be given a contract to develop the concept and put it into action.

    We are looking for a character or group of characters who would work well in both illustrated and animated form and could be easlily distributed nationally on the net and through other media.

    Send us a storyboard or short animation containing a health message which showcases your character/s in the best possible light.  Individual and team entries are welcome from both amateurs and profes­sionals.  Up to five entries will then be shortlisted and each given a budget of £3000 to produce their short animation.  The chosen winner will be given a six month contract to develop his or her concept and put it into action.

    Find out more on NHS Choices.

  • Family attitudes to diet

    by Caspar on 11 November 2008

    This afternoon we have launched our first forum, for discussion around the Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives Consumer Insight Summary. This report is a summary of the results of research carried out for the Department of Health into families’ attitudes and behaviours relating to diet and activity.

    We've lined up experts who were involved in the research to answer any questions you have about it, how it was carried out and the implications.

    Access the forum here. You'll need to register for an account and log in to participate.

  • Health online roundup

    by Caspar on 30 October 2008

    We've recently expanded our pregnancy blog, adding the diaries of several pregnant women.  We are also looking at recruiting more dads-to-be and midwives to the blog, to give perspectives from all angles.

    Arthritis News feature on NHS Choices blogsOctober was both Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Black History Month and there are features for each on NHS Choices.  The breast cancer section has information on symptoms and treatments and includes an interview with Gloria Hunniford talking about how she coped with the death of her daughter, Caron Keating. Black history month content includes interviews with Pamela Gyebi-Ababio on living with sickle cell anaemia, Rudolph Isaacs on donating his rare blood type and Nola Ishmael talking about her work as a health visitor, nursing manager and adviser on BME health issues and policy.

    The days getting shorter and the leaves on the trees changing colour can only mean one thing - winter is on its way.  Our information on winter health includes articles on the flu jab, seasonal affective disorder (winter depression) and keeping warm.

    The launch of our arthritis blog was recently featured in Arthritis Care's members' magazine, Arthritis News. Our arthritis blog has quickly become our most popular with more posts and comments than any other.

    Asthma UK has launched a black and minority ethnic forum for under-represented people to help influence the work of the charity.  Particpants will be asked to attend meetings, be case studies and act as spokespeople for the charity where neccesary.  Find out more on Asthma UK's website.


    If you were a fan of Dipex with its detailed information about living with medical conditions, you may be interested in visiting its relaunched website, now called Healthtalkonline and found at As it says, it allows you to "share in other people's experiences of health and illness."  You can watch videos or listen to interviews, read about people's experiences and find reliable information about conditions, treatment choices and support.

  • Welcome to the first post in the NHS Choices Editorial blog.  I’m Caspar, and am the Community Editor, looking after our blogs and the bloggers who write in them.


    Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve upgraded the software behind the blogs.  Now we have a much tidier front page making it a lot easier to get into individual blogs.


    We’ve recently had the first posts in our new depression blog.  Karin and Helen have both joined us as contributors via the Depression Alliance.  We will be adding more contributors to the blog over the next coming weeks.


    Rachel Haynes has posted about the hidden aspects of living with arthritis, though this is something common amongst most of the conditions we are blogging about; you can be in pain or know something isn’t right, but no one else around you can see that from looking at you.  Another great post recently was Kittychaos’s guide to buying an arthritis-friendly car.


    Dr BB on the asthma blog has recently been on a week long holiday with Asthma UKKick Ashtma’ holidays, helping supervise a group of younger people on holiday.


    Guardian journalist Joanna Moorhead recently spoke to some of our bloggers as part of an article on the health benefits of blogging.  Louise from the heart blog and R.Gyle on the asthma blog were both interviewed for the feature.


    Arthritis Care has featured the launch of our blogs on its website, with a nice big front page link.


    Finally, for those of you who want to keep up to date with all the posts made on NHS Choices Blogs, we’ve set up a Twitter account (if you don’t know what Twitter is, check out this video).  Our account is

About the NHS Choices talk blog

The talk blog is our way of keeping you up to date with what's going on in the blogs part of the site, to ask for your opinions and contributions and to bounce some ideas around. It's written by the editorial team behind NHS Choices, mainly John and Caspar who run this part of the site.

All views expressed are personal and not those of the NHS.

If you've got a question, query or quibble about the blogs section, email us.

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