Taxpayers’ Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services

The Taxpayers Alliance is attacking Central London NHS trusts's decision to recruit a top level professional to lead communications - even though it may make a difference between life and death

Andrew Allison of the Taxpayers’ Alliance has delighted us today by unveiling the ‘non-job of the week’. Central London Healthcare NHS Trust are employing a head of communications at £75,000 a year. Allison isn’t being irresponsible in calling this a non-job. He very graciously concedes: 

“Of course I accept there has to be people employed to handle media enquiries and contact with the public, but the primary role of the NHS is to heal the sick.”

What if one of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to heal the sick is sometimes done through communications strategies? In what kind of scenario would be this statement hold true?

Well let’s take a hypothetical situation in that there is a big flu epidemic which could threaten vulnerable groups such as the elderly in winter (a scenario that the Taxpayers’ Alliance themselves noted occured recently).

Central London is one of the areas most at risk due to close proximity of people in a region characterised by high volume and density of population.

Advisers tell us that the best way to prevent this is to roll out a big immunisation programme. This is reliant on letting those most at risk know about the programme. How do we reach those service users to get this information to them?

This would seem like the kind of thing you would need, I don’t know, a highly qualified Head of Communications and Engagement for? You might argue, the best in the business? 

So we’ve established that a head of communications can actually be one of the most efficient ways in preventing sickness and providing good healthcare. It’s not always the most important thing but can form a core part of a more complex network of health care. Failing to understand this has Allison getting carried away and asking a range of questions: 

“If this Trust has a head of communications earning over £70K a year, how large is the team beneath them? How many communications officers are there in London? How many are there in the UK?” 

 Well, London is massive. Lots of people live in it – roughly 8 million. And then there’s all the commuters and visitors who pass through from the rest of the country. As we’ve seen, we need good healthcare provision that can be flexible and be able to reach out to customers effectively.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to see government waste my money. But I also want to enjoy the high-quality health care provided by the NHS. I think this health care should be available to all free at the point of use and funded by myself and my fellow taxpayers. 

 As it happens, the Taxpayers’ Alliance have form on this. Their call to slash government communications was answered by the Coalition. They particularly welcomed attacks on the public health advertising budget saying

 “The swelling of this budget in the last decade has coincided with extensive and expensive ‘nanny state’ PR campaigns paid for by you, the taxpayer. These campaigns simply do not offer value for money.” 

And gave the government 5/5 for its action on the issue when it halved government advertising budgets – no if, buts or maybes.

However, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley had to reinstate £29 million of funding for healthy living and tobacco communication schemes after it was found that engagement with cessation and healthy living advice services had dropped, leading to increased ill-health, potential mortality and bigger costs for the NHS in the long run.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

21 Responses to “Taxpayers’ Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services”

  1. Bristol NUJ

    Taxpayers' Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services: http://bit.ly/nZlBZH: writes @natandoron

  2. Tim Easton

    Taxpayers' Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services: http://bit.ly/nZlBZH: writes @natandoron

  3. Jules Hillier

    RT @leftfootfwd Taxpayers' Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services: http://t.co/OgTtTWu < Yay! Sense!

  4. Brian Moylan

    .@the_tpa attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services: http://bit.ly/nZlBZH: writes @natandoron

  5. Natan Doron

    I had a few issues with an NHS head of comms being described as a non-job by @andrew_allison of @the_tpa http://t.co/QC2uc4Q

  6. Olly Parker

    “@natandoron: had a few issues with an NHS head of comms being described as non-job by @andrew_allison of @the_tpa http://t.co/rWutgwK”<burn

  7. Chris Gudgin

    “@natandoron: had a few issues with an NHS head of comms being described as non-job by @andrew_allison of @the_tpa http://t.co/rWutgwK”<burn

  8. John Lever

    Taxpayers' Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services http://t.co/zwKFa9K

  9. Michael

    Taxpayers’ Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services l Left Foot Forward – http://goo.gl/e6E15

  10. Spir.Sotiropoulou

    RT @leftfootfwd: Taxpayers' Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services http://t.co/tCjDA85

  11. BGB

    Taxpayers' Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services: http://bit.ly/nZlBZH: writes @natandoron

  12. Trevor A Smith

    Just who are the Tax Payers Alliance and who pays their bills?
    I think we should be told

  13. DrKMJ

    Taxpayers' Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services: http://bit.ly/nZlBZH: writes @natandoron

  14. DavidG

    We’re increasingly seeing the ‘Taxpayers’ Alliance’ being used as a second source on cuts stories, for instance they joined in the attack on people who dare to claim DLA because they’re disabled by spinal problems. They claim to be non-partisan, but strangely only ever seem to spout Tory viewpoints. They’re essential the Tory’s version of the Tea Party.

  15. Trakgalvis

    Taxpayers' Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services: http://bit.ly/nZlBZH: writes @natandoron

  16. Hitchin England

    Taxpayers' Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services: http://bit.ly/nZlBZH: writes @natandoron

  17. 45apl

    Taxpayers' Alliance attack NHS communications – just as government reprieves services: http://bit.ly/nZlBZH: writes @natandoron

  18. Natan Doron

    For those who missed yesterday's @leftfootfwd highlights: Taxpayers Alliance think a head of comms at NHS in a non-job: http://t.co/QC2uc4Q

  19. Leon Wolfson

    1 – They couldn’t possibly, *possibly* disclose that information.

    Yea, it IS slightly suspicious, isn’t it.

  20. ro

    It’s funny – it’s people like the Tax Payer Alliance that contributes to creating a demand for Communication teams with their bombarding of FOIs and press queries!

  21. Robert

    Yes guess what my local NHS said the same about a chap they employer to place art in the hospital saying look a nice picture would make people feel better go home quicker so they paid £125,000 three weeks later they stated they could not employ a heart surgeon due to lack of funds, two weeks later they employed a manager of car parks, but guess what they had forgotten the car parks had been flogged off to NCP, this is not a story this really did occur, the car park manager was then re-employed as a manager of the gardens.

    It’s unbelievable as most people who are employed are related to other high ranking people within the local NHS

Leave a Reply