Our ongoing relationship with the in-house communications team at the Healthcare Commission enabled them to call on us for experienced support on more than one occasion, knowing we would ‘hit the ground running’.
One of the commission’s key responsibilities was to carry out an ‘annual health check’ on the several hundred organisations delivering NHS care in England, with the results all announced on the same day – attracting significant media interest each year.
Handling the publication of the results was a massive communications challenge requiring a meticulously planned and precisely delivered release of information to regional NHS bodies, NHS trusts and their staff, plus the media and other stakeholders.
Our role was to be responsible for media handling and for internal and stakeholder communications supporting the national announcement of the results, working alongside the Healthcare Commission’s regional communications manager.
This involved working collaboratively with communications leads from NHS and other organisations across a designated geographic area as well as with interested media. We drafted internal documents and newsletter articles for trusts, identified lists and contact details for target media, prepared statements and comprehensive briefing packs for media spokespeople, set up interviews and briefed directors on key messages around the health check announcement.
The main aims were to ensure a consistent message was delivered throughout, that accurate and timely information was available to staff, stakeholders and the media, and that the reputation of the Healthcare Commission as a regulatory body was enhanced.
We were asked to repeat this role the following year – and our previous experience gave us a clear head-start on the project.
Shortly after the annual cycle of preparation began, the in-house communications manager left the organisation and so we took over the project management and also took the helm with ongoing communications such as maintaining the Commission’s website, producing newsletters and delivering more general communications and liaison with trusts and stakeholders.
When the new regional communications manager was appointed we were able to provide a comprehensive handover on all the areas we had been covering and train her on specific details of working within the organisation.
Our work with the Healthcare Commission is a great example of how we can build a relationship on corporate knowledge that allows us to offer continuity and a safe pair of hands, even when in-house staff change.