LETTERS: Comms and public health must unite

There is nothing new in the Government's ambition to reduce hospital admissions by preventing people with long-term conditions being unnecessarily admitted to A&E (News, 11 January).

What is new is the emphasis that Gordon Brown has placed on health screening and self-care by helping people with long-term conditions manage their illness. This goes beyond tailoring communications to answer expert patient queries, as your piece suggests.

Having found at-risk individuals or communities, PROs have to take the lead in developing communications strategies that encourage lasting behaviour change.

It is right to be optimistic about the Government's proposals, but are there sufficient skills within the public sector to deliver such communications strategies? In some trusts there is a yawning gap between communications and public health.

Public health departments deliver reports on disease prevalence and consider their job done. Meanwhile, communications managers are too busy fending off aggressive media calls and ticking the public consultation boxes.

If the Government's vision for self-care is to be achieved, a behaviour change is needed much closer to home.

Julian Tyndale-Biscoe, MD, InHealth Communications.


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