The NHS turns 70
What is it that makes this country stand out? The monarchy? The beautiful countryside? Our music? Our innovation? Be it stunning countryside or the hustle and bustle of our city centres, it’s safe to say that the NHS is one of the most iconic symbols of this country and we need to take our hats off to the staff and services the NHS provides. So as the NHS turns 70, business development manager, David Bennett asks ‘Could the NHS be Britain’s greatest asset?’
Time for a change?
However, unless we see change and adapt to technological advances and wise up to the increasing financial strain the NHS is experiencing, the NHS as we know it could be a very different entity in another 70 years’ time. The NHS is facing challenging times in which accessing vital services is getting harder and the need to be able to communicate properly with service users is more important than ever. The challenge is how to implement the changes needed to ensure the NHS continues to be our greatest asset in the future. In an era where communication is easier than ever, with nearly everyone having a smartphone to hand, why is the NHS still being misused?
A King’s prediction…
The CEO of the King’s fund predicted the scenario years ago; that demands on the NHS services were going to be a problem. He prioritised three strategies to action.
- A long-term plan to commit more funding and staffing to Trusts
- Improve productivity and making smarter budgets
- Reform and integrate health and care and focus on preventative care
A lack of communication?
But whilst these ideas are in progress, we still struggle to communicate effectively with our users. A prime example is the constant winter pressures each Trust faces year on year, issues that we have known for years, still causing blockages, corridors being used for beds, staffing concerns, etc… These issues cause a major headache for all, especially the NHS staff, but we, the general public, still seem to lack that bit of “self-management” when it comes to accessing the correct services.
Are we all listening to the wrong people?
Service users are heavily influenced by friends and families, what they see on TV and especially by what they see on social media. Times are changing, and the NHS needs ensure people get the right treatment in the right place, so instead of listening to our parent’s advice, the ramblings of politicians and the misinformation on social media. The NHS needs to be able to effectively communicate above all the noise.
Is the general public missing the messages?
There are so many different types of NHS services, but not all service users see this, the average person probably won’t know the difference between a CCG, an Acute Trust, A Foundation Trust. Is this a failure in communication? Through the creation of region-wide organisations, the NHS is trying to change this, but this will take time and it needs consistency and clarity in communication.
Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that specific audiences still struggle to access the right service. For me, it seems we need to look at education. Why don’t they teach healthcare at School? –I’m not saying that it’s totally ignored now, but we need to educate the younger generations on how to access the right services and more about health care in general – interestingly the same people who turn up to use these services have travelled via UBER, they know how to use tech that’s only been around for a few years but have no idea on the best service for them, although the NHS has been around for 70 years! This is an example of needing to simplify things and connect with the public in a clear and impactful way.
Now more than ever the communication of all key messages need to be effective so that everyone involved (service users, families, staff) can recognise which service they need. One way in which we can do this is to personalise the message, make it relatable and about THEM. When it comes to any message in marketing, you need to evoke a response otherwise what’s the point? As well of this, the NHS needs to provide the public with a sense of empowerment to feel in control of the situation and show them how they can use services correctly and potentially save the NHS millions.
Users need to be encouraged to be proactive and take control. Users need to be educated in a personal manner through effective marketing. Similarly, we need to encourage people to educate themselves and work together with their service providers to ensure some of the weight is taken away from reactive services. This isn’t going to happen if the messages are easily diluted and lost in a multitude of jargon.
If we want the NHS to remain as this country’s greatest asset, it’s time we started to respect it and treat it as the precious commodity it is!
This message has to be communicated effectively and together! It’s what we do, from stakeholder engagement through to campaign led projects, our team at Creativeworld have over 20 years of experience influencing behaviour change and communications through the UK.
For more information, get in touch with our Health Marketing experts:
Dan Palmer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Bennett: email@example.com