National Association for Patient Participation

DearColleague campaign launches in NI

12 March 2018

This week, medical and health professionals from across Northern Ireland are taking to Twitter show mutual respect for their colleagues and share good examples of how working closely together can benefit patients.

The #DearColleague social media campaign, initiated by RCGPNI’s Deputy Chair for Policy, Dr Laurence Dorman, brings together Medical Royal Colleges in Northern Ireland and aims to address some of the issues we face at the ‘primary and secondary care interface’. The campaign will help encourage different healthcare professionals to gain a deeper understanding of one another’s roles and publicly acknowledge that we are all working towards a common goal: to deliver high quality care for all patients. 

Doctors working in different settings do not always have a full understanding or appreciation of what their colleagues do and what pressures they face. By using the hashtag #DearColleague, healthcare professionals are showing mutual respect for one another and highlighting the value of using a personal greeting or ‘Dear colleague’ when they address each other in referral letters and emails. Most importantly, they are showing that they all work as part of one health and social care team.

Addressing interface challenges is a priority for the Royal College of General Practitioners.
The interface describes the journey and communication between primary care doctors such as GPs, and those in secondary care such hospital consultants, surgeons and other allied health professionals. Problems across the interface can disrupt a patient’s journey, and create extra workload for doctors on both sides of the interface.

By working to improve the interface, we are aiming to make the patient journey smoother, faster and easier for both patients and doctors. This requires working with other organisations to develop practical solutions to the problems facing healthcare professionals.

How can medical professionals get involved?

Join us on Monday 12 March in the #DearColleague conversation.

To get involved, you can:

  1. Use social media to highlight good examples of interface working you have encountered in the health system. Highlight these using the hashtag #DearColleague and tag relevant Colleges and stakeholders to help spread the message for example @rcgp_ni
  2. Use this designated week to reach out to your colleagues across various professions and specialties, with messages of mutual respect and recognition, again using #DearColleague. 
  3. Consider how you address your colleagues when sending letters or emails. We encourage you to start correspondence addressing individuals by name or Dear Colleague.

While this campaign came from initial work between Medical Royal Colleges, we know that the health and social care team of course spans much wider – including nurses and allied health professionals – and we have also contacted their representative organisations to encourage them to get involved in the conversation.

While the #DearColleague social media campaign is the focus of our activity this week, it is only a first step in helping to improve issues around the interface.  We are currently developing plans to work with other Colleges to establish guidelines for professional behaviours and communications, similar to that published by the Welsh Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. You can view these at: interface.amrcw.org.uk/

To get involved in the campaign, click here to tweet or visit the RCGPNI Twitter page at: twitter.com/rcgp_ni

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