David Cameron must go on PR offensive in order to 'salvage the Tories' reputation' on the NHS, experts claim

Radical NHS reforms need to see a PR push by Prime Minister David Cameron according to leading healthcare PROs.

PM: David Cameron must launch PR offensive, say experts
PM: David Cameron must launch PR offensive, say experts

The PM’s intervention will admit to problems in the plans by the Secretary of State, Andrew Lansley, to allow for more time to gain support from clinician, ministers and the public, amid growing claims from critics of back door privatisation.

Last week, the NHS Confederation criticised the Government’s communications on the reforms and called for ‘a compelling narrative’ to move the plans forward.

Healthcare policy expert Jessica Fine, director at Lexington Communications, said Cameron must step in ‘to prevent the very public row over the future of the NHS.’

‘Cameron now needs to go on the PR offensive to salvage the Tory’s reputation on the NHS and prevent the first casualty of his Government,’ she said.
 
Fine added that Cameron’s biggest challenge would be ‘bringing Andrew Lansley round to the idea that major changes to the reforms are needed.’
 
‘Fears of backdoor privatisation must be quashed if this is to succeed. The key will be getting the Health Secretary to concede on the pace of reform, and in particular the compulsion for all GPs to be part of a consortia by 2013… Lansley is determined not to abandon his plans and thus far has not found communicating his vision easy.’  
 
James Tyrell, director at Insight Public Affairs said that he was surprised that Lansley was given so many opportunities to get his messages across.

‘It was always going to be difficult to communicate, but I am surprised Cameron gave Lansley so many attempts to try and get it right,’ he said.
 
Adding: ‘It will be very difficult for the Prime Minister to replace Lansley, who as the architect of the structural reforms, would mean forcing Cameron to perform a complete u-turn, which would undermine his own judgement and maybe his position. Cameron and Lansley together need to explain that there are two halves to this ambitious plan.’
 
Jon McLeod, chairman, corporate communications & public affairs at Weber Shandwick said: ‘It's raw politics to blame communication for the unpopularity of a policy. But simply reaching for a harder sell won't wash with the public.’

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