24 Nov GP Bloggers Corner #1 – Dr Jonathan Griffiths
To start our new series showcasing interesting blogs about General Practice, Dr Jonathan Griffiths tells us about his blog, how he got started and why is it worth giving it a go. If you would like to be showcased in this section of GP View, just email Ema or Mark.
A few words about the blog: Blogging about health, the NHS and leadership Jonathan is a GP working in Cheshire and also Chair of NHS Vale Royal Clinical Commissioning Group. You can follow Jonathan on Twitter @DrJonGriffiths
Why did you start blogging?
I wanted a way to communicate my thoughts on health and commissioning. As a CCG GP Chair, I felt that having a public ‘face’ was important and that writing a blog would help to let people know what I thought and what I was doing. Each time I write something I have to think who I am I writing for, and this does change. Sometimes I have in mind an audience of the general public, or my patients, for other blogs it may be directed more to my fellow GPs, or even the wider health care community. It has given me a platform for my voice to be heard.
How long have you been blogging for?
I started blogging shortly after I became Chair of NHS Vale Royal Clinical Commissioning Group in 2013. That means 5 & ½ years so far. Initially, the blogs were published on the CCG Website, but I took the decision a while ago to start my own WordPress site which I have been using ever since. I have been clear never to say how often I will blog, and recently there have been less published that I would perhaps like, but I still have ideas and ambition to keep going!
What do you hope to achieve through your blog?
I hope that my blog makes people think. I hope it sometimes gives an alternate perspective or teaches people something new. There are not that many people blogging from a commissioning perspective and I think we have a story to tell. It also enables me to articulate to myself what I think about a particular subject, and once it’s out there I can refer back to it (this is particularly handy on Twitter where you can give the link to your blog post, and avoid the character restriction!).
Has anything surprised you since you started?
I have been surprised by a number of things. Firstly that you can never predict which blogs are going to be popular, and which won’t be! I would never have expected that my ’10 Insider Tips I bet you don’t know about your GP’ blog post would attract over 200,00 views! A blog can also increase your profile and lead to other opportunities. I spent some time working with Helen Bevan’s team which came about as a direct result of my social media activity. At times it has been hard work – the discipline of sitting down and writing is tough when there is so much else going on. It is easy to prioritise everything else, although I do genuinely think that a communication channel like a blog is important.
How do you publicise your blog? Which channels are the most helpful?
Mainly social media – Twitter primarily and sometimes Facebook. We email out to a distribution list from the CCG and put a link in CCG newsletters as well. Twitter can help get it out there quickly, but Facebook has often resulted in larger numbers of views – but you have to target Facebook groups, just posting it on your timeline probably won’t do much.
What keeps you going with it?
I enjoy it, and people tell me that I write well. I have more stories to tell, and my blog gives me a way to do this. It’s fun!
What are your plans for the future?
To keep at it. I want to write more about Primary Care, particularly in this time of change. I have thoughts about GP networks and how the model of General Practice is likely to change. I also think that I might want to move into alternative ways of communicating – vlogging is possibly the way to go?
Any tips for colleagues who may be thinking about blogging?
Just do it. All you need is a free site to host your blog that takes moments to set up, some ideas, and time to write. Think about your audience, think about how you will promote. Get on social media and start following and engaging with people. Write things that are relevant and that people will want to read. I have found it to be a great outlet for me and it’s great to have a back-catalogue of blogs to refer back to.