At a Glance

Charity highlights NHS accountability issue

THE LOWDOWN PLEASE.

The King's Fund has just released a report, called Should Primary Care Trusts be made more accountable?, reviewing the positive and negative consequences of improving public involvement in the NHS. It strongly criticised what it calls the lack of clarity around the issue of accountability in the NHS.

IS THIS A LIVE PR ISSUE FOR THE GOVERNMENT?

It certainly is, and we can expect an increasing amount of comms chatter around NHS issues as we get closer to June. That is when the findings of Professor Lord Darzi's review of the NHS and how it works are due to be published. Accountability is one of its key areas of interest.

WHY IS THE KING'S FUND IMPORTANT?

Because it is a well-respected, independent charitable foundation carrying out research and policy analysis and its briefings are seen as sensible and informed. Chief executive is the former BBC TV journalist Niall Dickson.

HOW DOES IT HANDLE COMMS?

There is a department of a dozen, which includes web, marketing and publications officers as well as three PROs. Activity around this report was led by senior press and public affairs officer Liz Banks. She reports to head of press Daniel Reynolds.

WHAT WAS COVERAGE LIKE?

Articles by the report's authors were placed in Health Service Journal, House magazine and The Times Public Agenda section - the latter two trailing the report ahead of publication. The story also ran on PA and in the London morning free paper Metro.

ARE COLUMN INCHES THE SOLE BENCHMARK?

No, the King's Fund aims to feed its ideas into the Darzi review, and copies of the report were sent to key politicians, think-tanks and NHS organisations as well as all PCT chairs and chief executives. One of the measures for success in promoting the paper will be whether it is referenced in any parliamentary debates on this topic later in the year.

WHAT OTHER COMMS WORK IS IT DOING?

This was the second of two research pieces from the King's Fund on NHS governance. The first looked at the mooted NHS constitution, which is Gordon Brown's big idea, and at the notion of an independent board, which the Tories are pushing. There is to be a breakfast debate on the topic, currently scheduled for June.

Further information www.kingsfund.org.uk.

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