Substance or spin - that is the question hanging over the much
hyped new national ’blue print’ for the NHS. While admittedly much of
the document hams it up for a restless audience, buried between the
lines are some real opportunities for intervention by pharmaceutical
companies, PR practitioners and consultancies.
Taken at face value, the blue print could be seen as yet another barrier
erected by this Government. Certainly the climate has changed
dramatically since Frank Dobson created an opening for briefings during
his first fumbling attempts to get to grips with the NHS.
In fact, a distinct chill fell over relations after the launch of Viagra
as the Government stiffened its resolve over private/NHS
And when NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) turned down
the application for NHS distribution of Relenza in September, agencies
and pharmaceutical companies had no option but to broaden their focus
from prescribers to policy makers.
NICE is particularly sensitive about the concept of lobbying, but while
overt presentation from pharmaceutical companies is still limited, the
new blue print has effectively opened a back door for PR through its
greater focus on the voice of the consumer.
Pharmaceutical PRs have long lobbied disaffected patient groups, but now
that these groups have been given a real voice within NICE and at a
local level, patient power has taken on a whole new meaning.
Viewed in this light, the blue print begins to take on a rather rosy