The director of NHS comms post has been created as part of chief executive David Nicholson’s plan to develop a NHS leadership team.
The post-holder will report to the Department of Health director general of communications Sian Jarvis who returns to her role next week following maternity leave.
However, the director of NHS comms will have a specific remit to advise Nicholson and his yet to be appointed medical director, who sits on the NHS leadership team. The post-holder will also chair a board of ten comms directors, who lead each of the country’s strategic health authorities. They will also head up the 12 strong strategic NHS comms team, which sits in the comms directorate.
Acting director of comms Matt Tee leaves the department next week to take up the post of chief executive of NHS Direct (PRWeek, 28 March).
The new director of NHS comms is likely to be someone already working within the NHS, according to DoH director of news Jon Hibbs.
Last year the NHS faced a £500m deficit but this year is operating with a cash surplus following 17,000 jobs cuts, a move which has enraged unions. NHS funding continues to be a political hot potato.
Other issues causing a headache for NHS bosses include the cost of drugs to treat cancer, and whether patients should be able to choose expensive but unproven treatments. The news on-line recruitment system for doctors suffered a series of setbacks earlier in the year, causing reputational damage.
However, at present there is limited discussion on sensitive issues, pending the change in the Labour Party’s leadership.