buy an image from a PR company and look like...

For what, do they exist

It’s a good job the post lady doesn’t have to deliver my emails. She’d have needed a fork-lift truck for the number of responses I got last week…

… to the news that NHSE had commissioned a branding agency, called Thompson, to help them…

… ‘cultivate the right personality’ because, presumably, they don’t have a personality, as an ‘empowering coach-like leader’ in part to ‘rebuild lost trust’ with the service.

I picked up the story after a reader sent a link to the HSJ.

I didn’t believe it. In fact, I was so incredulous, I rang the editor of the HSJ, the wise and super-cool Alastair McLellan.

‘Was it a spoof…’

‘One hundred percent genuine’, he said. Now, if that’s not value for money for my subscription, I don’t know what is!

Amongst others, Thompson work for;

• Morrison’s,
• did something at the 2012 Olympics,
• the Keelhaul Farm Shop,
• ran a campaign called ‘love your vulva’
• and represent James Heal…

… who is he?


Apparently, NHSE are looking for a “central narrative” and a “messaging framework”, for the “new NHS England”.

It turns out;

‘… “the new NHS England” [is to be] “positioned primarily as a facilitator of improvement”, and for the organisation to be seen as “part of the solution, rather than part of the problem”.

Actually, NHSE’s enabling legislation makes no mention of ‘improvement’. We could let that go…

… except…

… they are looking to ‘re-frame’, their core function, away from regulation, policy and budget control… which is their job.

They want to adopt ‘a down to earth… voice’… develop ‘credibility’ and avoid being seen as ‘disconnected’ with the ‘front-line-realities’.


“Actively combat the media-driven narrative of NHS England being made up solely of bureaucrats”.

Instead, I’d guess, as a result of this episode and judging from my in-box, they are likely to be seen as bonkers and the bureaucrats who cash-out tax-payer’s hard-earned.

How much? Dunno… but as soon as I get the answer to my FOI, I’ll let you know. For now, I’d guess you won’t get much change from £100k.

Thompson have been here before.

I remember, in 2016, they pitched up, changed the NHS logo from upright letters in three boxes, to leaning forward letters, in one box. They called it an ‘identity policy’.

In Greek, there is a word, ‘erga’.

It means deeds. The word appears throughout the scriptures, in various guises. In summary;

‘By your deeds shall you be known.’

I point this out only because it is probably cheaper than bringing in an advertising agency, to tell us what yer Mum probably told you;

‘Do right, by doing right and you’ll be alright.’

NHSE seem to be living in a home for the bewildered, so here are a few ideas that might fix their image.

• ICBs… there are too many of them, we don’t have the talent to run 42. They aren’t working. Cut them down to 20.

• The NHS is a collection of talents… invest in developing people, find a way to make all training free, Masters, professional qualifications, the whole shebang. Growing talent, grows; resilience, pride, loyalty and performance.

• We have the largest workforce in the country and nearly half are in their 50’s. Workforce is going to fall off a cliff, called retirement. At the other end; fewer people want to become nurses. Laser focus on retention. It’s cheaper and quicker than recruitment.

• The workforce is mostly female, most patients are female and most carers are female. Find out what it means for the NHS to be female friendly… and do it. What does family friendly mean? Find out and do it.

• The days of the heroic leader are over. Develop NHS leader’s soft skills; innovation, creativity and emotional intelligence… recognise that it won’t be achieved through targets and financial penalties.

• Understand, these days, people don’t want a job for life, they want a job and a life. Flexible working. Remote working. Make the workplace the social centre of people’s lives.

• Dump everything ‘digital’ you don’t have the budget. Concentrate on login-times, overcome interoperability problems, hire data-analysts, put them on the Boards and listen to them. Centralise procurement.

• Organise NHSE Board meetings at a different Trust, every month and spend the night before and the whole day, talking with people.

• Understand the only thing that matters, will matter and will always matter, is waiting. Let people know where they are and how much longer. Celebrate, praise and share every time a list gets shorter and salute the people who made it happen.

Do that and take a chance on being;

• connected,
• empathetic,
• aware,
• interested,
• with the right personality,
• empowering,
• facilitating,
• part of the solution,
• credible,
• doers and
• knowers.


… buy an image from a PR company and look like…

… numpties.

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