Written by on . Pegasus.

Reflections on PharmaComms #2: Focus on ‘We Are The NHS’

Helen Pattison, Director of Business Development, recently attended PRWeek’s PharmaComms. Here she shines a spotlight on a comms campaign that drove tangible outcomes.

It was a significant year for the NHS last year as we all know. Celebrating 70 years of one of the country’s most-treasured institutions was always going to be a big event.

Which is why it was fascinating to hear Simon Enright, Director of Communications for NHS England, speak at PharmaComms about the communications strategy behind its birthday year.

Going into the talk you might be excused for thinking Simon has the hardest job in the world. But on hearing him speak, you would instead regard him as an excited child with a favourite toy. His enthusiasm for his role was evident and he spoke with real passion and clarity about how he set out to celebrate the three Ws of the NHS: how it’s Worthwhile; Well run; and World-class.

He talked about relationships he had forged with leading media titles to try and instigate a turnabout on some of the damning and demoralizing headlines that the NHS was receiving and remind people how well-run an organisation it is.

He talked about celebrating the world-class innovations and product launches that the NHS had played a part in and were now successfully using to treat patients.

But most interestingly, he shared a case study of a campaign for the NHS which generated incredible impact, and really brought to life (in its anniversary year) just how worthwhile a role it played in people’s lives.

One of the more significant challenges facing the NHS is recruitment and retention of staff, with some reports suggesting that in 2018 there were over 40,000 nursing posts vacant in the NHS. Previous campaigns, Simon admitted, focused most on the skills needed for the job. Important – but not enough to encourage nurses that have left the profession to return, or to improve the retention of existing staff.

Instead ‘We Are The NHS’ celebrates the individuals that are the lifeblood of the NHS. Launched to coincide with the 70th anniversary date, and delivered through a multi-media campaign, the advert puts its people squarely at the heart of the message. It honours the small and big human interactions that make the role of the NHS nurse so fundamental to the treatment of patients, and all told through the passing of a single day.

The advert is clearly designed to pull at every one of your emotional heart strings but it’s powerful, celebratory and a great lesson in patient – and people – centricity.

Most strikingly, and a clear point of pride for Simon, the advert delivered against it objectives and has helped attract more than 260,000 people to its recruitment website over the past three months. Searches for general nursing information on the Health Careers website went up by 243 per cent, and UCAS data showed a 31 per cent increase in students choosing a nursing degree course.

Incredible outcomes for a worthwhile campaign. And a great reminder that if we can talk about human benefits – patient or healthcare professional – then we are going to inspire greater engagement and action.

is Director of Business Development & Marketing at Pegasus, and brings with her over 18 years communications and new business experience.