Healthcare: At a Glance - NICE takes up HDA's comms mantle

Is this because of the NICE merger?

'Merger' is perhaps the wrong term. NICE has just absorbed the Health Development Agency (HDA) to create the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Presumably to be known as NIHCE?

Er, no. Still known as NICE. But in addition to old NICE's raison d'etre - guidance to the NHS on drugs and treatment - new NICE's remit now includes the HDA's public health commitments. So it will provide guidance for voluntary organisations, local authorities and, in a real break from the past, the private sector.

So who gets the PR jobs in the new set-up, then?

There's no change at the top: Louise Fish is still comms director, meaning there was no place for former HDA comms director Jeff French, who was seconded to support last year's public health white paper. Acting HDA head of comms Tonya Gillis becomes comms manager, with a remit including renal and urinary disorders.

How does the rest of the team look?

Lucy Betterton, associate director of comms, looks after queries on the transfer of functions in the new NICE, as well as gynaecology, pregnancy and childbirth. There are two more comms managers: Phil Ranson handles cardiovascular and most cancer areas, respiratory and skin disorders, while Fraser Woodward oversees gastrointestinal issues, mental health, nutritional disorders and infectious diseases.

Is that it?

NICE has a further three comms executives whose areas of expertise range from ear, nose and throat diseases to public affairs. All comms staff will be promoting the work of three new 'centres' in the expanded NICE: clinical practice, health technology evaluation and, of course, public health excellence.

What can the PR team look forward to?

Ongoing NICE work includes post-traumatic stress disorder, prostate cancer and knee-replacement surgery. It is also reviewing its controversial Alzheimer's drugs recommendations.

Further information www.nice.org.uk.

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