Healthcare: Government PFIs need positive PR

Good or bad PR can 'make or break' individual private-finance initiatives in the NHS, one senior healthcare PRO claimed last week at a conference organised by the NHS Confederation-backed Future Healthcare Network.

Good Relations Healthcare MD Michael Smeeth acknowledged that PFIs, criticised by the left as the creeping privatisation of public services, 'produce an emotive response (in people), and that is not necessarily a positive one'.

Smeeth warned that those projects that failed to have 'high-level communications involvement' faced a 'very real risk of losing public and staff support'.

'There is a lack of understanding of the benefits and process of PFI,' he said. 'They provide equipment as well as buildings - it's not back-door privatisation of the NHS.'

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