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NHS London PR spend criticised

But Trusts argue PR is need to educate public

Over the last three years the NHS in London has spent nearly £13m on public relations, according to reports.

A Freedom of Information request by the BBC revealed press officer salaries accounted for £9.7m, with another £3m going to PR companies.

There are currently 82 press officers on the NHS public payroll, with an average salary of £37,278.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of The Patients Association, told the broadcaster: "Far too many patients experience longer waiting times, cancelled operations and standards of care below what they deserve.

"These figures are a concerning example of the cost of NHS PR - it is sadly patients paying the price.

"Many will ask whether this funding would be better spent on medical doctors, rather than spin doctors."

But a spokeswoman for Chelsea Children's Hospital, which paid £10,620 for Eureka Marketing Solutions' logo redesign, said patients relate to the branding and that it "helps create an environment where they felt safe and comfortable".

Tower Hamlets PCT, which spent £353,391 in outsourced PR over the last three years, insisted much of the spend was on public health campaigns with real value.

While a spokesman from the Department of Health explained to the BBC:

"The NHS organisations are responsible for how they spend their funds, including their responsibility to communicate with patients and the public. However, we are clear the NGS must focus on improving the quality of care for patients.

"Money should only be spent on external consultancies if this is absolutely necessary and provides good value for money."

14th March 2013

From: Marketing

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