This handles long-term strategic PR, brand reputation and improving internal communications.
The team has been created by DoH comms director Sian Jarvis to better handle long-term PR as the NHS reorganises in April.
Jarvis said: 'I wanted to have a more strategic overview and look at how we can better engage all those in the NHS.'
Changes in the NHS next month include the axing of seven of the eight regional executives along with the 95 health authorities. These will be replaced with 28 strategic health authorities and four regional offices.
The DoH is also emphasising more of a local-level approach to PR, with more involvement of hospitals and GPs, which are managed by trusts.
Guidance issued last week by NHS chief executive Nigel Crisp recommended that trusts beef up their PR.
The strategic communications team replaces the now-defunct corporate comms division, which was headed by Peter Addison Child, who also held the title deputy director. He left last year to join PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Steven Pollack, Ross Langford and Andrew Millward will report to the deputy director. All were recently handed the title of assistant director and head planning, editorial and internal comms respectively.
Also scrapped in the senior-level reshuffle is the campaigns division, which has been retitled as the marketing team. The third section, the media division, remains.
Last month PRWeek (15 February) revealed that PR staff at regional NHS executives will be placed on 12-month notice from April.
NHS Special, p10.