Published Fri, 2011-10-21 10:44; updated 4 years ago.

Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital is to become the first health organisation in the UK to offer expert advice and support through social media.

The hospital will connect with patients and the public in an open "Heart to Heart" fortnight on Twitter from 1 November until the World Diabetes Day on 14 November. 

In the first session, Dr Shahrad Taheri, a leading diabetes expert, will tweet about the main issues surrounding the disease and answer questions. Other health problems will get the Twitter treatment in future Heart to Hearts. 

Due to the rise in obesity, chronic conditions such as diabetes are affecting people at an earlier age than previously, so Twitter and other new social media channels provide opportunities to reach younger audiences online. 

"The new channels are a great way of communicating with patients as they offer real time response with the result that they can take action quicker than ever before," said Dr Taheri. "They also create a friendlier environment where people can ask their questions freely while being anonymous. 

"I am always looking for new ways of giving advice about diabetes and obesity and this is a great opportunity for me to do that. It will also be useful to hear what questions and concerns – and maybe misconceptions – members of the public have about these issues." 

Anyone can follow Heartlands Hospital on Twitter – @heartofengland – and raise any questions or concerns about diabetes from 1 November until 14 November. Those who don't have a Twitter account already can set one up in a few easy steps.