CAMPAIGNS: ACE secures prescription for Scotland - Public Affairs

Client: AntiCoagulation Europe
PR Team: In-house and Pagoda PR
Campaign: To make self-monitoring strips for anticoagulation therapy
available on prescription in Scotland
Timescale: October-December 2002
Budget: £14,000

AntiCoagulation Europe (ACE) is a charitable organisation that provides information and support on oral anticoagulation therapy to patients, their carers and clinicians. Typically, its members include individuals who are at high risk of developing blood clots, such as those with a mechanical heart valve, congenital heart disease and deep vein thrombosis.

In October 2002, ACE hired Edinburgh-based Pagoda PR to end the anomaly whereby patients on anticoagulation therapy in Scotland had to pay the commercial rate (around £80 per pack) to access self-monitoring strips, while those in the rest of the UK could acquire such strips on prescription.

Objectives

To secure the understanding and agreement of the Scottish Executive to have self-monitoring strips made available on prescription in Scotland.

Strategy and Plan

The PR team decided that the key theme for the campaign should be to highlight the injustice that those in Scotland did not have the same access to self-monitoring strips as those in the rest of the UK.

This included organising a petition in the form of A5 postcards, which were sent out via the charity to those using the strips, as well as to individuals who had an interest in the subject, including consultant haematologists, GPs and nurses. Others were encouraged to sign the petition online at the ACE website.

In addition, Pagoda sent an information pack and briefing materials on the campaign to all MSPs and organised two receptions, targeting members of the Health Committee and Petitions Committee.

MSP Mary Scanlon was a vociferous supporter of the cause and tabled questions to the Scottish Executive and Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm, while also putting down a motion to the Parliament, calling for the anticoagulation strips to be made available on prescription in Scotland.

A media relations strategy was also undertaken and ACE forged strategic alliances with other organisations, including the Association for Children with Heart Disorders and The British Cardiac Patients Association.

Measurement and Evaluation

During the campaign period, Pagoda evaluated media coverage and spoke with key opinion-formers, MSPs and journalists to ascertain levels of support.

The ACE initiative was covered by the Mail on Sunday and Daily Record and backed by cardiologists and consultants from all over Scotland, while 23 MSPs supported Scanlon's motion.

Results

On 3 December, prior to receiving the ACE petition, the Scottish Executive agreed to put self-monitoring strips on prescription.

This change came into effect immediately and ACE celebrated with a front page piece in The Herald.

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