Public Sector: NHS Lothian hands service reform task to Stirton

Scotland's second-biggest health authority has promoted Jenifer Stirton as director of comms as it prepares for a controversial shake-up of services.

Stirton - head of public affairs at NHS Lothian since 1999 - is charged with briefing staff and the general public about the service reforms, signed off by ministers in July.

The programme involves plans to close hospitals and amalgamate specialist care services to help cope with a doctor shortage and create centres of excellence.

'The NHS can't always recruit the right number of doctors so we need to move services, such as general and A&E surgery, together,' said Stirton.

She said the challenge was to convince the public that the authority was not closing services and to communicate changes to staff. Other issues involve explaining how the body spends its annual £1bn budget.

The South-East Scotland authority has taken charge of comms for five community health partnerships, which came into effect earlier this year.

The partnerships were introduced to help local health authorities better understand and address the needs of the communities they serve.

Stirton heads an eight-strong corporate comms team and replaces Leigh McGowan. She is responsible for PA, external and internal comms, publications, internet and intranet. Services include Edinburgh Hospital.

Before joining the NHS, Stirton worked for the Scottish Office.

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