NHS media manager moves to nursing charity

Aysha Awan, who led on the press and PR campaign to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, has left the public sector to become director of comms, marketing and events at the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

Aysha Awan has joined the Florence Nightingale Foundation
Aysha Awan has joined the Florence Nightingale Foundation

The former NHS media relations manager – who describes herself as "a senior strategic and media communications professional" – is joining the charity at a significant time in its history.

This year is the bicentenary of Florence Nightingale's birth – something which has prompted the World Health Organization to declare 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife.

Responsibilities and challenges

In her new job, which she started this month, Awan leads a team of three and reports directly to the charity's chief executive, Professor Greta Westwood.

Awan is responsible for developing and leading the comms, marketing and events strategy for the Foundation, which provides scholarships to support nurses and midwives in their careers.

"Beyond that I want to modernise the Foundation and take [it] into the digital age and harness the power of social media," Awan commented.

She is also looking to position the charity as "the go-to place for nursing and midwifery thought leadership".

NHS comms background

Awan's experience of working on the NHS 70th birthday celebrations, where she was part of the comms team led by Antony Tiernan, will be an asset in her new role, she claimed.

"My biggest lesson from NHS70 was that everyone has been touched by a nurse or midwife at some point in their lives, but that nurses and midwives are reluctant to promote themselves – a good comms professional becomes that mouthpiece."


Over the coming months Awan is seeking to "highlight the impact of what we do and to position us as the official charity of Florence Nightingale supporting nurses and midwives".

She said: "We were created as a living memorial to her work and, while we have a fantastic reputation in the health sector, there is little public awareness about what we do."

Florence Nightingale was far more than a nurse who carried a lamp, she was also "a statistician, a suffragette, a public health reformer, a woman who defied the patriarchy and saw the world for all the opportunities it offered", Awan noted.

Words of welcome

Westwood said: "I am delighted Aysha has chosen the Foundation for her next career move. She has a wealth of comms and media experience that will help us to make a mark in 2020 and beyond."

She added: "More importantly, she understands the impact nurses and midwives have on society. Her passion for our Foundation and the work that we do will be the driver for our success."

Career to date

After graduating from Kings College London with an honours degree in English, Awan spent five years in events management at Kings College London and the National Gallery.

She then moved into the charity sector, initially as fundraising officer at the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, then as development manager at the International Medical Corps.

Awan went back into event management in 2008, with roles at the British Lung Foundation and Guy's and St Thomas' charity, before a stint as head of fundraising and comms at One to One Children's Fund.

In 2011 she became press and celebrity officer at the Salvation Army, leaving in 2013 to become head of comms and events at the British Asian Trust.

The following year she moved to NHS England, where she spent five years and held several comms roles, becoming media relations manager in 2016.

Awan left NHS England last month to take up her role at the Florence Nightingale Foundation.

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