The PR team's main objective was to create a persuasive, evidence-based case for the procedure that would resonate with the long-term financial needs of the NHS. It was also charged with banishing negative perceptions of gastric band surgery and gaining a clearer insight into the variation in provision for bariatric surgery throughout England.
Strong on evidence and put the issue in the context of national spending
Georgia Veats, Head of PR, Oxfam GB
Responding to findings that many PCTs were going against NICE guidelines and not letting many patients who qualify for obesity surgery have operations, Ketchum Pleon collaborated with the Royal College of Surgeons to create a bariatric surgery comms programme that would raise public awareness of the value of the surgery and enable more obese patients to benefit from gastric bands.
Together, they commissioned the Office of Health Economics (OHE) to put together a report into the cost of surgery and the wider socio-economic implications. The OHE analysed the chronic conditions suffered by morbidly obese patients and looked at how surgery to alleviate these symptoms could reduce health spending. The results made a strong case for bariatric surgery, highlighting the beneficial effects of enabling many patients to return to work and subsequently cutting incapacity benefit payments. Ultimately, it demonstrated that the procedure paid for itself within 12 months.
To generate maximum impact, the OHE's Shedding the Pounds report became the basis of a high-profile roundtable debate that included key decision-makers and stakeholders, including the Department of Health, the Royal College of Physicians, Cancer Research UK and HM Treasury. Media outreach surrounding the report generated 163 pieces of coverage in papers including the Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, and in broadcasts on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 5 Live and Sky News.
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