PR student leads first live tweeting from UK surgery

Posted on Wednesday, February 20 2013

A PR student from Bournemouth University (BU) led the first live tweets from surgery in the UK.

Jessica North, 22, is in her final year of the BA (Hons) Public Relations degree at BU and works for Merchant Marketing Group alongside studying.

Jessica led the live tweeting from gastric bypass surgery at Spire Bushey Hospital, which is one of Merchant’s clients.

She sat in the operating theatre and tweeted throughout each step of the two and a half hour procedure.

Jessica, who lives in Bournemouth, said: “By tweeting the procedure live as it took place, we were able to provide real insight.”

She added: “Social media and digital communications is my absolute passion in the industry and I’m very fortunate for the opportunity to combine them both.

“We had to fully prepare in case of a crisis, in which case the live tweet would have stopped with an explanation as to why, in this situation it is vital the patient and his family come first.

“I spoke with the patient and his family so they not only fully consented but were all happy with what would happen and could ask me any questions if they were unsure at all – this kind of thing can understandably be a little nerve-racking.

“He understood what a fantastic educational opportunity this would be for the public and wanted to be involved because of that.”

Although live tweeting has been done during surgery in the US, this was the first time it has been done in the UK.

Jessica tweeted throughout the gastric bypass surgery – an operation which alters the size of the stomach to aid weight loss – from the hospital’s Twitter account, using the hashtag #liveatbushey.

She said: “With the help from the surgical team, I answered people’s questions and enquiries and shared a few images from the operation room.

“It was amazing to be sat in that room; the skills and expertise of Mr Sufi and his team are inspiring. I don’t think there’s another industry that can simply change an individual’s life in just a day.”

Jessica added that the response from the public had been great, and there were plans to do it again in future.

“We had such lovely feedback from people, being the first in the UK meant people were glued to the screens as we revealed the next tweet,” she said.

“My absolute favourite moment though was after the procedure when I went to see his family.

“They’d been following the live tweet and despite earlier apprehensions were really pleased it took place. They said it gave them an inside look at what was happening to him and it was peace of mind knowing that nothing was going wrong.

“We are looking at repeating the procedure and we’re currently researching the best operation to showcase.”