The Nuffield Trust rank the NHS by country – PR Week Post #27

(Click here for the original post on PR Week)

Earlier today, a really interesting report was published by the Nuffield Trust outlining the performance of the NHS in England (split by 10 regions), Scotland, Ireland and Walesbefore and after devolution.

Following the evaluation of a number of measures, the analysis highlighted that whilst “historically Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have had higher levels of funding per capita for NHS care than England” there was a stark contrast in resource deployment versus expenditure.  The research states: “… the NHS in England spends less on healthcare and has fewer doctors, nurses and managers per head of population than the health services in the devolved countries, but that it is making better use of the resources it has in terms of delivering higher levels of activity, crude productivity of its staff, and lower waiting times.”

The possible reasons for the differences are discussed by Dr Jennifer Dixon (Director of the Nuffield Trust) at The press release and slides are well worth a peak if you have a spare few minutes this week.

I can’t believe it’s not butter – PR Week Post #26

I read yesterday that the Government is launching its second wave of campaigning to highlight the dangers of saturated fat in our nation’s diet.  Why a ‘second wave’ you ask? Well, it seems that the original TV, radio and poster campaign didn’t work because it simply wasn’t motivational or direct enough.  To fix this, the Foods Standard Agency (FSA) have launched the 21-Day Sat Fat Challenge.  A campaign with a difference…

As you can’t go through a day now without hearing about a new iPhone app, the FSA have have developed its own (  All you need to do is download the app, choose your saturated fat reducing challenge (such as ditching butter or drinking lower fat milk) and, at the end of each successful day, the app will send a tweet to your friends on Twitter.

I wonder where they got this iPhone app idea from?

Perhaps it was the alcohol ( or calorie ( counter?

Despite my sarcasm, if it works, it will be extremely positive.  We all know that cardiovascular disease is the UK’s biggest killer so if there are better ways to motivate people to cut down on their saturates, that has to be a good thing.  Leading surgeons suggest 3,500 lives a year could be saved.


Battle lines are drawn – PR Week Post #25

(Click here for the original post on PR Week)

As the majority of us have been enjoying the holiday break and trying to avoid thinking about our new year’s resolutions and impending diets, the policy writers at the Conservative headquarters have been busy putting the final touches on the Party’s new health manifesto.

I don ‘t plan to summarise the entire report (you can read it for yourself in all its blue and green glory at so below is a brief review of some of the more interesting points covered in its three main areas of ‘promise’.

You won’t see anywhere within the document exactly how these promises will be delivered (especially in the context of the massive natonal budget deficit) but perhaps we can ask this question when the leaders debate live on TV ( as the general election draws nearer (which could be even closer after today’s leadership wobble – live coverage at

Anyway, back to the manifesto:

1. Through a patient-centred NHS, there are plans to: Get rid of centrally-dictated target setting; put patients in charge of their own records; create an independent NHS board to allocate resources to different parts of the country and make access to the NHS more equal.

2. Create a more accountable and accessible NHS where: Hospitals will not be paid in full for a treatment which leaves a patient with an avoidable infection; reform is applied to how drug companies are paid for NHS medicines so that any cost-effective treatment can be made available through the NHS and; NHS Direct will take on a different guise to give people access to a doctor or nurse when the local family doctor’s surgery isn’t open.

3. Focus on improving the nation’s public health by: Turning the Department of Health into a Department of Public Health; providing separate public health funding to local authorities which will be accountable for – and paid according to – how successful they are in improving their local communities’ health; introducing a new per-patient funding system for all hospices and other providers of palliative care and allow everyone (on retirement) to protect their homes from being sold to fund residential care costs by paying a one-off insurance premium of £8,000.

Sadly, we will have to wait to see the Labour Party’s manifesto but in the meantime, they have launched a “What Conservative said what in 2009” quiz. If you are at a loose end, you can participate online at  Enjoy…