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Excellence in Communications – Payers/Policymakers

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Our NHS: Exposing ‘Secret Plans’, Mobilising Public Engagement

by Incisive Health for 38 Degrees


Summary of work

Our NHS: Exposing ‘Secret Plans’, Mobilising Public Engagement

In 2015 NHS England announced 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). Despite the importance of STPs to the future of the NHS, by August 2016 there had been little local or national scrutiny of the process. Parliamentary questions were repeatedly sidestepped by referring to NHS England’s role or the local nature of STPs. 38 Degrees became increasingly concerned that the development of STPs behind closed doors would undermine public support for the NHS and lead to services implementing irreversible changes without public consent. Members of 38 Degrees repeatedly stated that the NHS was their number one priority, yet it was difficult for grassroots activists to engage in the STP process.

Following an audit of draft STPs, 38 Degrees began campaigning to expose the planned changes to the NHS to political pressure and to persuade NHS leaders to truly engage the public. The campaign combined media coverage with activism - 35,000 people contacted their MP. Under the pressure, multiple MPs tabled parliamentary questions, spoke in an Opposition Day Debate and challenged ministers and the prime minister to engage the public. Ultimately NHS England published a public and patient engagement guide for STPs addressing many of the concerns expressed in the campaign.

Judges' comments

Incisive and 38 Degrees had a great understanding of the issues around this programme. They developed clear hooks for the public and leveraged to impressive effect. They had a very specific, tailored message and got change at local level. It is great to see companies doing something about this issue with utter transparency and lack of secrecy. Excellent example of how media can be used in political campaigns.



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