The Bell Pottinger Group agency won the brief with The Foundation Trust Network following a competitive pitch last month. The agency saw off Fishburn Hedges, Rise Communications and Neo Creative in a four-way contest.
Foundation trusts have more control over their budgets and services than other hospitals in the NHS.
But they have been the subject of criticism since their introduction in 2004. A recent report by regulator Monitor concluded that the growth of foundation trusts has not resulted in an improvement in performance.
Good Relations plans to handle a project that will see the agency speaking to stakeholders such as politicians, health professionals and staff to determine their current awareness of foundation trusts and how they can communicate with them better in the future.
The team aims to develop messaging and a strategy that will help stakeholders gain a better understanding of trusts.
The three-month project will be led by Bell Pottinger Collective director Claire Cater, alongside Good Relations account director Kathryn Ager. The team will report in to the network’s director Sue Slipman.
There are now 83 foundation trusts. Cater said: ‘There is a lack of understanding of what a trust is and how it operates. It may be the case that the trusts’ comms need to be more consistent nationally so people can understand how they operate.’
Cater added that the network’s priority should be in recruiting mental health hospitals to become foundation trusts, as they would benefit most from public consultation.