Under-fire Hewitt drafts in new special adviser

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has hired a media adviser as she endeavours to repair her image after claiming the NHS had its ‘best year ever’, despite crippling debts.

Karen Livingstone, a former comms and campaigns director at the Transport and General Workers Union, becomes Hewitt’s special adviser on media  from 26 July. At the TGWU, she led campaigns to save jobs at Rover in Birmingham and Vauxhall in Luton. She is currently director of marcoms at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Livingstone will work alongside Hewitt’s policy adviser Liz Kendall. Hewitt’s previous media adviser, Paul Richards, is the author of media-handling guide Be Your Own Spin Doctor. He is now adviser to Labour Party chair Hazel Blears.

Hewitt made her infamous claim in April. She has since staked her reputation on turning around the NHS’s financial crisis  from its current £512m debt.

A Department of Health spokesman refused to confirm or deny the appointment. Livingstone did not return calls.

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