EDITORIAL: DoH is in need of a major PR boost

Speaking of jobs more likely to raise the blood pressure than the

quality of life, it was reported this week that the Department of Health

has stepped up its hunt for a successor to Helen McCallum as

communications director.

Beyond the cheerful headlines - 'Wanted: £100,000 NHS spin doctor'

- lies a serious issue of how to communicate in one of the public

sector's most challenging PR roles. The Blair government has made it

clear it wishes to be judged by delivery in its second term of office.

Communications can play a key part in that, not only in managing high

expectations among the general public, but in staff recruitment and

retention and in supporting the increase in private sector involvement

in health service improvement.

How many of us were aware that the first days of July were NHS Week?

A press search for that period turned up the barest of mentions in the

national print. If more is to be made of the event next year - and more

generally, if the NHS is to raise its comms game in the wake of

McCallum's move - a major hire is needed. With an Alastair

Campbell-beating salary on offer, higher blood pressure may be a price

worth paying.

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