A clean bill of health?
Every political hot potato of recent times seems to be accompanied by a televised verbal battering of a leading politician by a hot-under-the-collar senior member of the public.
Following in the footsteps of Gillian Duffy's Gordon Brown-mauling before the last election is June Hautot. The 75-year-old was filmed earlier this month with her finger pointed firmly at beleaguered Health Secretary Andrew Lansley as he arrived for a meeting about the Health and Social Care Bill.
She is not the only one to be worked up about the impending changes to the NHS. As this supplement went to press, the sound of discontented mutterings from medical staff across the country threatened to drown out any positive messages that the Department of Health's PR team could summon up.
All of which poses a difficult comms balancing act for private healthcare groups, which stand to gain as part of proposals. BUPA has been running ads making clear that it has no shareholders and thus all its profits go back into the business. As our interview with Dr Josephine Perry shows, Nuffield Health is taking a similar tack. Nuffield has another weapon in its comms armoury - its diversified business that encompasses preventive healthcare.
As Weber Shandwick's Ruth McEwen and Tamora Langley point out, the private groups also have the potential to highlight that their staff morale is in better shape than that of the NHS (assuming that it is), thereby highlighting the 'disconnect between reality and the common perception of media and politicians that staff are only happy working directly for the NHS'.
The future of the NHS and cloud of rumour and counter-rumour is likely to haunt David Cameron and his team until the next election. The more interesting question is the extent to which the public can come to regard private healthcare providers as something beyond the capitalist pariahs that some sections of the media paint them as.
Claire Murphy, consultant editor, PRWeek firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Josephine Perry
See what our essay writers had to say about healthcare below
Amid the furore over the Health and Social Care Bill, Nuffield Health is playing up its non-profit credentials and unique mix of services. Jane Bainbridge talked to its head of external relations, Dr Josephine Perry.
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