Good Relations to aid sinking NHS IT project

The Government has called in Good Relations to salvage the reputation of the country's beleaguered NHS IT programme.

The agency has been briefed specifically to help deal with the surge in criticism that the project has attracted in the past few months.

The appointment is part of wider efforts to bolster the project's PR, including the creation of a head of media relations post (PRWeek, 22 Sep) - yet to be filled - and various promotions within the in-house team.

‘This is a very high-profile project and the big issue is to make people understand what is involved and what they have achieved so far,' said agency director Mark Herbert.

He leads a team reporting to James Herbert (no relation), director of external affairs at Connecting for Health - the body overseeing the project.

Pitches were handled by the Central Office of Information last month. Good Relations has been hired on a six-month contract, which could be extended.

Connecting for Health is aiming to revolutionise Britain's healthcare system by digitising patient records
and offering state-of-the-art services. But it remains dogged by problems such as spiralling costs, technical setbacks, security concerns and resistance from GPs and clinicians.

‘If anything, the reputation of this project is getting worse: a recent survey showed 50 per cent of GPs are prepared to boycott the first stage of the project,' a British Medical Association spokesman told PRWeek

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