CIPR Health Group calls on NHS leaders to value and protect PR & communication

The Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) Health group has published an open letter welcoming the focus on public engagement in NHS England’s recently published Long Term Plan.

We fully support the call to action for the NHS locally that their implementation plans must be developed with input from the public, patients and crucially the people who work on the frontline. There needs to be consistent, open and transparent conversations that help to drive improvement and address the real issues that affect our communities. Only together can we develop local plans and a joint commitment to delivering the ambitious vision.

As the chartered body for public relations and the largest membership organisation for PR professionals in Europe we are keen to highlight the wealth of expertise and support available to healthcare leaders and local health boards. Public relations is all about relationships with the public and we urge health leaders to involve their communication teams from the beginning in the development of their plans.

Last year the NHS turned 70, this milestone was a chance to recognise and thank the extraordinary NHS staff – the everyday heroes – who are there to guide, support and care for us, day in, day out. To support the birthday the communication leaders in healthcare and the media industry came together to contribute to a body of knowledge called #FuturePRoof: Edition Three.The NHS at 70 with Lessons for the Wider PR Community, edited by CIPR Vice-President, Sarah Hall Chart.PR, FCIPR.

This publication sets out why maximising the skills and expertise of the PR profession is critical to the future sustainability of healthcare in this country. It reminds us that the NHS remains one of the most trusted institutions in the UK, and much of its credibility comes from the humanity and professionalism of its staff. PR professionals, including excellent internal communication professionals, remain critical in recruiting, retaining and encouraging the return of all those who work so hard on the frontline, who interact with the public every day.

The prevention agenda has long relied on communications and the effective use of PR to challenge and encourage behaviour change across all members of our local communities.This is shown in the plan through the collaborative and collective way in which NHS, third sector and local authorities are being asked to work together and we wholeheartedly support this. There is a need for strong communications and marketing to drive behaviour change, instilling belief in the messages and confidence that any changes will be impactful and feel real for people.

We are pleased that the Long Term Plan identifies the importance of communications and engagement, as well as understanding the value of NHS PR professionals that deliver this. As a group we would particularly value consideration to be given to non-communications leaders who will be shaping and driving the development of the plans. The CIPR Health Group asks that the importance of communications and engagement is not under estimated. The work delivered by your communications and PR teams should be valued, and truly be at the heart of the planning, implementation and delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan. We would ask that you consider greater support and resources for their professional development to be an investment that directly supports the delivery of the Long Term Plan.

Communications professionals are essential to protect trust and respect in the NHS. We encourage you all to bring this Long Term Plan to life, painting a vision of an NHS fit for the future and so making that vision a reality.

CIPR Health Group

  • Emma Leech Found.Chart.PR, FCIPR. Director of Marketing and Advancement, Loughborough University, CIPR President 2019
  • Rachel Royall Chart.PR, MCIPR, Director of Communications, NHS Digital
  • Sarah Pinch Chart.PR, FCIPR, Managing Director, Pinch Point Communications, Non-Executive Director, HSE

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