CAMPAIGNS: Lobbying - Success for RNID's digital hearing push

Client: Royal National Institute for Deaf People

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: Digital hearing aid

Timescale: Autumn 2001

Budget: Undisclosed

Routinely only out-dated 1970s hearing-aid technology is available on

the NHS. Since May 2000, digital equipment had been available on the NHS

but only to patients at 20 Hospital Trusts. The Government believed the

technology needed more tests before it would finance a full


The RNID's case was both that the technology worked, and that it could

make a vast difference to the quality of deaf peoples' lives.

At up to £2,000 each, the equipment was too expensive for most

people to buy privately, so a roll-out of the NHS scheme was



To persuade the Government to make digital hearing-aids available to the

two million people who were using analogue technology.

Strategy and Plan

The campaign had public affairs and PR components. The central plank of

the campaign was to get an Early Day Motion (EDM - a parliamentary

petition) signed by as many MPs as possible.

EDMs have a principal parliamentary sponsor and the RNID secured

Blairite Labour backbencher Siobhain McDonagh in the role. McDonagh

wrote to all MPs encouraging them to sign and the RNID provided a

briefing pointing out the merits of the new technology.

Part of the inducement to get signatures was the press relations aspect

of the campaign. This involved the RNID sending a press release to media

in the constituency of each MP who signed.

At the same time, the charity sent 300,000 postcards to RNID members

asking them to send them to their MPs to encourage them to sign.

Before Christmas health secretary Alan Milburn was also sent an empty

Christmas stocking with the message that two million deaf people wanted

a digital hearing aid for Christmas.

Measurement and Evaluation

The question of digital hearing-aids was covered in an Adjournment

Debate and in Health Questions during November.

The pressure in Westminster was kept up with 50,000 of the RNID

postcards being sent to MPs.

To date, the EDM has been signed by 217 MPs - the highest for any

health-based EDM in the current parliament.

Meanwhile the press relations campaign generated local TV, radio and

press coverage for the charity throughout November and December.


The campaign resulted in an announcement on Christmas Eve that at least

an extra 30 Trusts would be authorised to provide digital hearing-aids

at a cost of £20m.

Also, an extension was announced to the initial two-year period over

which the first 20 Trusts provided the hearing-aids.

In all, one-third of the deaf people in the country will have access to

the equipment.

The campaign was successful in starting a national roll-out that appears

to have strong momentum.

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