Healthcare body plans PA work to target NHS bosses

The Association of Healthcare Communicators is to launch a public affairs campaign aimed at convincing NHS bosses of the importance of comms.

The move is the first of its kind by the group, which represents PROs within the NHS, and was announced as part of a new strategy approved at its annual conference in Glasgow last week.

This includes a greater commitment to lobbying efforts and a revised structure, which includes a newly created three-strong external comms team.

A joint chairmanship has been put in place to be shared by Blackwater Valley and Hart Primary Care Trust comms and patient involvement manager Carol Hemsley, and Buckinghamshire Shared Services comms and public involvement head Gillian Hodgetts.

Hemsley said: ‘We have been very insular in the past. We’ve got to grow up and not just talk about the importance of communications among ourselves, we have to prove it outside of the organisation.’

As part of the campaign, the group will attempt to bring onside PR friendly CEOs to argue the case for comms among their sceptical counterparts.

One NHS boss who says he would be happy to take part in such a move is Hillingdon Primary Care Trust CEO Dr Graeme Betts. He said what was needed to influence other CEOs is evidence of the knock-on benefits of PR.

He said: ‘Any campaign has got to be demonstrative.’ Better internal relations and coverage in the local media make staff happy, improve staff retention and save money on recruitment costs, he added.

Although neither Hemsley or Hodgetts would comment directly on specific NHS organisations, it is understood that those without any in-house communicators will be a target.

Director of communications at the Commission for Health Improvement Matt Tee said lack of consistency needed to be addressed, with some trusts in the same geographical area having a team of ten, while others have just one PRO.

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