Mental Health Trust chooses agency director as new head of comms

Former journalist and healthcare comms chief Saffron Pineger joins South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust as its head of communications and campaigns this week.

SWLSTG's new head of comms wants 'parity of esteem' for mental-health services
SWLSTG's new head of comms wants 'parity of esteem' for mental-health services

Pineger, who takes up her role on Wednesday, will oversee the delivery of the Trust’s current comms strategy and collaborate on the creation of a five-year comms plan.

She will also help lead the comms team across different fields and provide engagement and reputation-management advice to colleagues.

Pineger will develop and evaluate the effectiveness of the organisation’s comms activities as well as work on its reactive and proactive reputation management. 

She will report to the Trust’s director of comms and stakeholder engagement, Ranjeet Kaile.

Kaile told PRWeek: "Saffron’s broad range of experience, both in-house and in the private sector, will further strengthen our communications, public affairs and stakeholder-engagement strategies."

He added: "Her enthusiasm and energy for improving patient care and experience will continue to build on innovations which directly benefit our staff, service-users and carers, and elevate our work and reputation as a beacon of excellence for many national services."

Previous experience 

Pineger, who has a master’s degree in literature, was briefly an English and drama teacher at a secondary school before becoming a senior journalist for the Fulham and Hammersmith Chronicle in London.

She later joined Imperial College Healthcare Trust for more than six years, rising to become its comms manager.

Pineger then swapped the public for the private sector when she joined agency Freshwater as a director, overseeing a team of five in its healthcare communications division and working on a range of digital campaigns, films and publications.

During her four years at the agency, Pineger led strategic comms and engagement programmes on behalf of healthcare and NHS clients, as well as taking on secondments with clients.

These included one at East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust, where she helped provide strategic advice during a period of changes to its emergency services.

In her spare time, Pineger is a triathlete and represents Great Britain at an amateur level.

New role

Commenting on her appointment, Pineger said: "I care passionately about the NHS and am proud to have worked both in-house, during my former role as head of media at Imperial College Healthcare, and at Freshwater, where I had the privilege of working with scores of NHS organisations dealing with almost every imaginable issue and challenge."

Pineger said she wanted to achieve a "parity of esteem" for mental-health services in the NHS and reduce stigma for those who suffer mental ill-health.

She added: "I am truly excited about rejoining our incredible health system and having the opportunity to learn from my new colleagues in mental health, as well as work for an organisation which is part of my local south London community."

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