Alzheimer's Soc hunts PR chief amid NICE row

The Alzheimer’s Society – at the helm of a ferocious campaign to keep dementia drugs free of charge – is on the hunt for a comms director after Joe Crosbie’s departure.

The recruitment search comes as dementia sufferers and their carers have been left in limbo on the issue.

The charity is leading the fight against National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) plans to restrict the availability of treatments for Alzheimer's .

The battle – now nearing its conclusion – has been fought in the media and corridors of power over the past year.

It kicked off last March when NICE stated that none of the drugs available were sufficiently cost-effective (PRWeek, 11 March 2005).

In January NICE said only people with moderate Alzheimer's should have free access to drugs. Early or late-stage sufferers would have to fork out for treatment themselves.

The Action on Alzheimer's Drugs alliance – an umbrella group comprising 30 organisations and led by the Alzheimer's Society – has slammed the latest ruling as 'completely unethical'.

Final decisions are expected this summer.

Crosbie – formerly at The Children's Society – has left to return to his native New Zealand after just over a year in the job.

The charity has brought in Jill Rawlins, formerly a director of comms at The Countryside Agency, to replace him until a permanent successor is found. Rawlins heads a comms team of seven, which includes three staff on policy and campaigns, three media officers and one staffer dedicated to liaison with celebrities involved in its work.

Rawlins left the Countryside Agency last summer. She then held an interim comms role at food and grocery 'think-tank' IGD.
Other previous roles include that of head of corporate affairs for Somerfield and Kwik Save.

Rawlins is currently drawing up job specs for the comms director position. A shortlist of candidates has not yet been drawn up.
It is estimated that 750,000 Britons suffer from Alzheimer's disease, a condition where the progressive loss of brain cells leads to memory loss and mood changes in the sufferer.

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