Orkney Council to provide NHS comms

Communications for the Orkney NHS Trust is to be provided by the islands’ council after a financial crisis at the health body.

The move is understood to be the first of its kind in Scotland and was recommended by a team of financial experts, sent in by the Scottish Executive to examine an estimated £1.5m overspend by the trust.

This team recommended that the trust’s long-standing external communications account, held by freelancer Fiona Holgate for six years, be terminated and replaced with a service level agreement with Orkney Islands Council.

‘The SE believes setting up a communications service agreement between council and trust will save money and bring closer working arrangements,’ said Orkney Islands Council PRO Mark Hirst.

The agreement will see the council’s communications expand and could, according to Hirst, become a model for similar local authorities.

‘We are light-years behind English and Welsh authorities in service agreement communications,’ said Hirst.

‘But I think this move is further evidence of dynamic thinking in the islands of Scotland, and could set a precedent for the rest of the country.’

Hirst is leaving the council to take up a new post at the Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration. His departure is understood to have contributed to the move to a cross-service agreement.

Hirst said the new team will expand from the current two council PROs to four.

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