McCallum takes merged NHS job

The Department of Health has merged its PR unit with that of the NHS, creating the new board-level post of communications director. The position is to be filled by Helen McCallum next month.

The Department of Health has merged its PR unit with that of the

NHS, creating the new board-level post of communications director. The

position is to be filled by Helen McCallum next month.



McCallum currently heads communications at the NHS Executive, the NHS’s

headquarters, reporting to the chief executive via the planning

director.



McCallum will be replaced next year, but will oversee the work of her

replacement.



The decision to merge the NHS Executive’s communications with PR for the

over-all Government department should give greater power to a single

communications head.



McCallum will report to Health Department permanent secretary Chris

Kelly and oversee some 100 staff covering the NHS, public health and

social care, including social workers and the social services

inspectorate.



The new post’s remit involves both internal and external communications

and long-term PR strategy. Media relations were previously handled by

outgoing press and publicity head Romola Christopherson, who is to

retire after over ten years in the post. Internal PR has never been been

represented within the information department before.



Issues on the Department of Health’s PR agenda include communicating the

Government’s planned abolition of GP fundholding in the NHS in favour of

primary care groups.



McCallum said: ’The challenge is to focus our activity around reaching

people whose health is poor and who are socially excluded. And, in the

area of social care, public understanding is very variable across the

country. It’s quite a sizeable job.’



She added that the merging of communications at the NHS and the Health

Department was unlikely to result in any redundancies, but might see a

reshuffling of duties.



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