Communications profession making strides towards acceptance as a strategic function but more progress needed

25 January 2018

A report by NHS Providers shows that the NHS communications profession has more progress to make until it truly has a seat at the top table in the running of NHS trusts.

The State of NHS Provider Communications 2017/18 provides a snapshot of trust communications through benchmarking data, interviews with communications leaders and thought leadership on future practice.

The centrepiece is a survey of 130 communications leaders working in hospital, mental health, community and ambulance service trusts. More than half (56%) of NHS trusts in England took part in the survey.

 

The survey found that: 

 

The report outlines the innovative work that NHS communicators are leading on a daily basis – whether that is by delivering high profile campaigns that lead to desired behaviour change, leading public engagement strategies as part of initiatives to transform the way care is delivered, or providing high quality information to patients.

However, as with other NHS staff, it reveals a highly pressured and over-worked profession, with fewer staff, too many demands and not enough opportunities for professional development.

The report author, Daniel Reynolds who is director of communications at NHS Providers, said:

“Good communications sits at the heart of how the NHS engages with its patients, communities and staff. The leadership and expertise provided by communicators has a vital role to play in improving the patient experience.

Our survey showcases the best of NHS communications but also the progress that is needed if the communications profession is to be elevated into the strategic function we aspire it to be.

"Our survey showcases the best of NHS communications but also the progress that is needed if the communications profession is to be elevated into the strategic function we aspire it to be. 

"Chief among these challenges is showing more clearly the impact communications has on the patient experience, using evaluation tools to demonstrate return on investment, and working more effectively with local government communicators to engage with the public around the complex changes to local services that are needed."

 

The report makes a number of recommendations, including: 

 

The report can be found here.

PR Week has written an analysis piece on the report, which is available here.

A blog from Daniel Reynolds is available here.

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