Back in March 2020 Professor Karol Sikora set up a twitter feed with one overriding and simple message that with the impending Corona virus pandemic, he thought ‘cancer patients were going to be thrown under the bus’.
In June we held our first Q and A with Professor Sikora on his experience of using twitter to put this message out while his feed has become one of the most followed on social media with over 345,000 followers as we speak.
As this year comes to an end, we asked him some further questions on his experiences to date and one final one on our own specialist field of radiotherapy and these are his replies:
Q. Have you met your initial objectives when setting up your Twitter account in March?
A. Well it certainly pushed cancer care up the agenda in the public eye. There’s no doubt NHS England were stimulated to come up with better plans to maintain diagnostic and treatment pathways instead of just closing up shop. Patients still got a raw deal in some places.
Q. What are your latest thoughts, good and bad about using Twitter now some 10 months since starting?
A. It’s a bizarre medium – not very friendly. And full of self-important people who are up themselves. I’ve caused a few twitterstorms where people descend on you like locusts with fairly hateful messages. The worst one was when I pointed out that most Covid deaths were in people over 80 years old. I was compared to Dr Shipman.
Q. Would you like to change anything about how Twitter works technically and why?
A. Like my mobile phone I’m sure I only use a small percentage of its features. I’m really not interested in global domination although I would like to catch up with Matt Hancock in my follower number. He always seems to edge ahead.
Q. If there was one thing you would tell all of your followers at the end of this dreadful year, what would that be?
A. For goodness sake keep going and let’s stop talking about Covid. Pandemics end when the people say they have.
Q. Do you plan to stop tweeting in the future or have you set some new goals for 2021?
A. My goals have moved away from the virus and into cancer. Let’s try to get slicker at the diagnostic process – that’s what’s holding us back in the UK. We need to complete the diagnostic work up in two weeks not just get the patient seen. It’s all still hopelessly slow compared to the Continent.
Lastly, and for our dedicated radiotherapy readers, what do you think will be the most important breakthrough in radiotherapy treatment in the UK in 2021?
A. Better working practices in precision radiotherapy. SABR, the MR LINAC and Proton Beam Therapy all need much closer interaction between radiographers, physicists and doctors. Otherwise their advantage will be lost. Creating the right platform is challenging and requires a lot of effort but is essential for success.
You can follow him here on twitter @ProfKarolSikora while our original Q and A from June is available here