CAMPAIGNS: UAE hype puts HCI back on track - Crisis Management

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.

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

about HCI.

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


Campaign: To correct misinterpretations

Timescale: June 1997 - present

Budget: Undisclosed

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