Voluntary sector: Thrombosis charity flags up clot risk

Thrombosis charity Lifeblood is working with Insight Public Affairs to raise awareness among patients and healthcare professionals about the UK's number one killer in hospitals.

Lifeblood: campaign to raise awareness of blood clots
Lifeblood: campaign to raise awareness of blood clots

Campaign: National Thrombosis Week 2011
Client: Lifeblood: The Thrombosis Charity
PR team: Insight Public Affairs
Timescale: March 2011
Budget: £30,000

In January 2010, the Department of Health announced a goal for all hospital trusts to assess 90 per cent of patients admitted, to identify their risk of developing venous thromboembolism (VTE/blood clots).

However, a year later just 30 out of 162 hospital trusts in England were meeting that goal. Lifeblood: The Thrombosis Charity hired Insight Public Affairs to raise awareness among patients and healthcare professionals about the UK's number one killer in hospitals.

Objectives

To raise awareness of patients' right to be assessed for their risk of developing blood clots on admission to hospital

To raise awareness among healthcare professionals of the financial and human cost of hospital-acquired blood clots

To highlight Lifeblood's campaign for medical, nursing and pharmacy students to receive professional education around blood clot prevention.

Strategy and plan

The PR team identified two hard-hitting stories - the £112m annual cost to the NHS of litigation claims around blood clots, and the 4.5 million inpatients missing out on blood clot risk assessments.

Insight also found examples of young people who had suffered from a missed or prolonged diagnosis of a blood clot.

The regional press was targeted by identifying the poorest performing hospital trusts in blood clot risk assessment. Hospital trusts in London were identified as falling well below the national average.

Measurement and evaluation

The campaign achieved 75 pieces of national and regional coverage across broadcast, print and online media.

This included a rolling feature package on Sky News and news coverage on ITV News, BBC radio, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Daily Express and the London Evening Standard, and in trade publications including the HSJ, the BMJ and the BMA News Review.

Results

The NHS Litigation Authority has now stepped up VTE prevention in its inspections of NHS trusts.

A number of NHS trusts exposed as performing poorly responded with updated strategies to improve VTE prevention.

The campaign prompted the NHS medical director to confirm that VTE prevention would continue to be a national clinical priority for the NHS.

Professor Beverley Hunt, medical director of Lifeblood, was asked to speak about the campaign at the inaugural meeting of the Global VTE Prevention Forum in Kyoto, Japan, in July 2011, where Lifeblood's campaign success was deemed to be the 'global trailblazer' in raising patient and professional awareness of VTE.

Lifeblood's site received more than 2,000 hits over the course of the launch week - traffic peaked on the first day of the campaign with almost 800 unique visitors.

The charity received more than 100 emails from patients and healthcare professionals as a result of the campaign.

SECOND OPINION

RUTH KIERAN, DEPUTY MANAGING DIRECTOR, KINDRED

Ruth Kieran

"Insight Public Affairs created a solid PR campaign using traditional methods, which capitalised not only on the fact that health reform is high on the media's agenda but also that public sector cuts are deeply entrenched in the public psyche.

Its systematic approach to tailoring statistics to provide a story about the overall cost to the nation, as well as how people could personally be missing out, was a good move. Using case studies of young sufferers helped to blow apart the myth of the stereotypical victim.

Insight's use of clinicians to add further weight to the issue was sensible. However, it might have gained further traction across consumer titles by using a celebrity spokesperson.

I would have been keen to see how it could have used social media channels. By targeting relevant bloggers and communities interested in related issues, it might have amplified its message.

Using third party stakeholder channels to reach health professionals might have been an easy win."

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