Verve to promote NHS plans

Verve Communications has been taken on to support controversial plans to res­tructure NHS services in South East London.

The agency has been hired by a consortium of NHS trusts in Bexley, Lewisham, Bromley, Lambeth, Southwark and Greenwich. Verve is now seeking to employ four members of staff to work on the account. It will focus on handling public involvement and consultation, using ‘del­iberative polling’ workshops to measure local concerns towards change.

The ‘Picture of Health’ res­trucuring project has been set up to deal with the £65m of debt across the NHS in South East London. Proposals inc­lude the centralisation of hospital services, potentially cutting the region’s four A&E departments to two or three.

Verve account director Clive Caseley said: ‘It is all about making sure that people are really engaged in the changes that are going to be proposed. There’s a really high level of debate. What we’re trying to achieve is a very high level of public inv­olvement. It’s really good that the comms side is being taken seriously.’

Caseley reports to Lewisham PCT head of comms Oliver Lake, who is heading up the project. Caseley has worked with several foundation trusts in the past, but said this is the biggest project.

The agency was appointed after a competitive pitch. The account will be under review at the end of June 2008.

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