Healthcare International (HCI) is a private hospital in Clydebank.
The pounds 200 million luxury hospital was built in 1994, supported by
pounds 37 million in public funds.
Within six months of opening, it was bankrupt, with patient numbers
falling short of forecasts.
The hospital soon became a popular whipping boy for the Scottish media,
attracting headlines such as ’Operation carve-up: New HCI scandal’ and
was labelled a Tory white elephant.
In 1995, it was bought back from receivers by Medical Investments, but
little was done initially to combat the criticisms still being aimed at
the hospital. MEA began working for the hospital in 1997.
To raise staff morale and generate positive coverage. In the long-term,
to change the perception of the hospital with the media and public and
highlight HCI’s standing as a legitimate private hospital under new
ownership with an important role to play in the local community.
The first phase of the campaign was to quickly generate some good news
As HCI’s new owner Medical Investments is a United Arab Emirates-based
consortium with the backing of the UAE’s royal family, the Gulf media
was an obvious target. MEA thus focused on getting positive coverage,
feeding patient stories to both Arabic and English-language publications
in the UAE.
This was supported by HCI-led medical conferences in Abu Dhabi and Dubai
and a media visit by key UAE correspondents to Scotland.
The second phase focused on the UK, but initially by-passed the Scottish
media. Again, the PR team used patient-led stories, but also added news
of new medical procedures and techniques. Although these stories were
aimed at health correspondents of the English papers, women’s magazines
and medical press, interest gradually moved north of the border.
MEA approached key influencers and high-profile figures often used by
the media for comment, inviting them to visit the hospital and
experience it first-hand. This effectively cut off the source of much of
the negative comment.
An independent report was commissioned into HCI. This supported - using
concrete facts and figures - the claims that the hospital was now a
state-of-the art success story. The information was released at a press
conference, with business correspondents as the key targets.
Following the report’s release, there was a huge amount of positive
coverage for the hospital in Scotland.
BBC Scotland and STV ran bulletins throughout the day highlighting the
facts that HCI employed 750 people full-time and contributed pounds 18.5
million each year to the local economy. Similar stories ran on BBC Radio
The prevailing tone of all reports was extremely positive and
highlighted the fact that the hospital had shed its old image. The press
coverage was also very positive, with pieces running in the Scotsman,
the Scottish Daily Mail, the Herald and the Glasgow Evening Times.
Again, coverage focused on the fact that HCI was now a success
All the local papers within the hospital employee’s catchment area
carried positive items too.
From being seen as a legitimate target for lambasting by the media to
headlines like ’HCI hospital now an pounds 18.5 million success’, the
strategy of targeting overseas media proved to be a good tactic in
paving the way for better media relations in Scotland.
Client: HCI Medical Centre
PR Team: MEA PR
Campaign: To correct misinterpretations
Timescale: June 1997 - present