Lies, damned lies and NHS fraud statistics

By Erica McAlpine on March 26, 2014 | Category: Blog | Tags: , , | No Comments

As Gwyn and Chris’ marriage is ‘consciously uncoupled’ a new union appears between the Guardian and the Express on NHS fraud statistics.

According to a report from ex-Director of NHS Counter Fraud Services at the Department of Health Jim Gee, the NHS loses £5bn a year to fraud – enough to pay for 250,000 nurses or the annual budget for cancer care.

Gee is now working for accountants BDO LLP and chairing Portsmouth University’s Centre for Fraud Studies. His report – published on Monday and widely reported by the BBC, Daily Mail and HSJ amongst others- attacked NHS efficiency with claims of NHS fraud being 20 times higher than official government figures.

However, delving into the figures produces unlikely bedfellows. Both the Guardian and the Express conclude Gee’s NHS fraud figures don’t add up. They’re based on an estimate comparing figures for fraud in overseas health services, adding them together and then coming up with an average.

Government critics, including Labour, have used the findings to call on Ministers to explain why the NHS is haemorrhaging the amounts suggested by Gee’s research.

Numeracy illiteracy has yet again left everyone with egg on their faces… seems like journos and PRs need to keep an eye on their maths, as well as their grammar!

Top five tips for PRs selling in to London Live

By Catherine Scale on March 20, 2014 | Category: Blog | Tags: , , | No Comments

At a time when channels, such as BBC3, are migrating to online only platforms – how will a brand new TV channel fare in the battle for viewers? I went along to meet London Live, the station that will occupy the prestigious spot on Freeview channel 8 to find out.

I was keen to find out what would make this channel different from the 633 others currently available to UK viewers at the touch of their Sky remote control. Words like “fresh” and “young” were banded around as you might expect a channel targeted at 16-34 year olds would, but eventually Jonathan Boseley, Head of Programming, got down to the details. He explained that: “For me TV has become very formulated, very formatted and it feels like the life has been sucked out of it.

“What we’re trying to do is bring the free-flowing nature of digital content to the TV environment, to bring something a little more exciting and vibrant, whilst also bringing new talent to the fore.”

When the Head of News, Vikki Cook, started to speak my PR-ears pricked up in anticipation. She told the eager audience that the channel would host an impressive five and a half hours of news programming every day, including a three-hour breakfast show along with hourly news bulletins.

Cook assured us that the news coverage on London Live wouldn’t only be doom and gloom. The channel is looking to bring a positive angle, including plenty of good news, Cook confirmed, “Our news has to maintain the same tone as the rest of the channel, we don’t hit pause and say ‘now it’s time for the serious news’ the content has to flow. I want us to have a really conversational approach.”

Top five tips for PRs selling in to London Live:

1. Find stories that are not West End-centric. London Live are unwavering in their aim to offer content from across the other 32 boroughs.Understand the channel’s voice.

2. The news team will be much more responsive to PRs who understand the tone, audience and ethos of London Live.

3. Include positive stories. The channel is on the look out for stories that will help them boost their output of optimistic news.

4. Keep press releases to the point. Cook was crystal clear in her assertion that emailing random, unfocussed press releases is not the way forward.

5. Only send them London news. It may seem obvious, but London Live won’t be interested in anything you send them about Cornwall.

In an industry that is increasingly focused on offering regional news that embraces every corner of the UK, London Live has the chance to focus exclusively on London news. The tone of the channel will be celebratory of London, showcasing the exciting new developments and talent of the city.

With a launch date of 31st March fast approaching, the pressure is on for the London Live team to pull everything together in time, and I for one will be looking forward to tuning in to see what they’ve come up with.

A wet news weekend in February – PR lessons from a giraffe, a lion and a hog

By Erica McAlpine on February 11, 2014 | Category: Blog | No Comments

Were you stirred by the international outcry over Marius, the two year old giraffe who was fed to the lions in Copenhagen Zoo?

On the same day, Longleat Wild Safari park in Wiltshire killed a lioness and her five cubs, but this story was largely ignored by the British media.

Why did the British media focus their attention on a Giraffe in a Danish zoo, rather than a lioness and her cubs being culled in Wiltshire, right on Blighty’s doorstep?

Read more …

Are we on the brink of a healthcare revolution?

By Catherine Scale on February 3, 2014 | Category: Blog | No Comments

Self-monitoring your health is now easier than ever. With the touch of a smart phone we can monitor our heart rate, posture and even our sleeping patterns. If we were that way inclined we could gather an overwhelming wealth of data about ourselves. Not only smart phone apps but gadgets and pocket-sized machines are available to provide us with an enormous insight into our every day functioning. Rapid technological improvements are offering us evermore accurate data, but we have to ask ourselves whether simply seeing these numbers is enough to motivate us to make positive change. Is looking at a pedometer that tells us we’re 45 per cent behind the national average number of steps going to make us get up off the couch? Read more …

The fight for patient data – PR techniques versus fear tactics

By journalista-admin on January 28, 2014 | Category: Blog | No Comments

Recently, charities and health-care providers from the Wellcome Trust to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have been queuing up to give their public backing to the Government’s efforts to create a single online NHS database for patient medical files. The coverage of this story shows an interesting divide between a government-backed, carefully orchestrated PR campaign on the one hand, and on the other, privacy activists and certain parts of the press who have cleverly linked this story to a general narrative of NHS privatisation. Read more …

Journey to Journalista: from higher education to graduate employment

By journalista-admin on January 18, 2014 | Category: Blog | No Comments

The recent spate of coverage of the changing experiences of students and new graduates has encouraged me to reflect on my own journey to Journalista. Greg Hurst’s Times article (13/01/14) analyses the rising trend of university as the first step onto a conveyer belt of internships, starting with Freshers’ week networking events, and hurtling on via open days, career fairs and summer internships towards a Grad Scheme Job in a Times top 100 company. In theory. The Labour Party has meanwhile announced plans for a ‘debt free’ degree program, with costs shared by government and employers, with, presumably, employers influencing the curriculum (reported in the Guardian), potentially spelling the end for the humanities and arts. We have seen articles varying from Razavi’s ferocious piece in the Independent (25/11/13) suggesting unpaid internships are a just punishment for those too lazy to gain work-experience while studying, to pieces like Jack Davis’s recent post on the Information Daily, arguing unpaid internships threaten social mobility. Read more …


By journalista-admin on August 18, 2013 | Category: Blog | No Comments

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are to partake in the largest deployment of telehealth services in the country to date, giving some 1,500 patients the opportunity to use touchscreen technology to respond to questions about their own health at home.

Read more …

Rare Cuts: What are the changes to health and social care after the spending review?

By journalista-admin on June 28, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments Off

Something very rare occurred last Wednesday during delivery of chancellor George Osborne’s spending review – and it had nothing to do with burgers (although that may have been rare too); there was good news in that £3bn has now been set aside from the NHS pot in 2015-16 for increased integration of health and social care services. Read more …

The Mid Staffordshire Inquiry: Too many lessons to learn?

By Oscar Holland on February 12, 2013 | Category: Blog | No Comments

“I would have written a shorter letter,” the 17th century mathematician Blaise Pacal famously explained, “but I did not have the time.” Using similar reasoning then, many might have expected something a little more distilled to emerge from the 14 months that passed between the final hearing into the collapse of NHS care at Mid Staffordshire and the publication of Robert Francis QC’s report last week.

Read more …

How to handle a crisis

By Daniel Saunders on July 13, 2012 | Category: Blog | No Comments

This past few weeks have played host to a number of high profile technology failures with major issues affecting banks in the RBS group and more recently with the nationwide failure of the O2 phone network.

Whilst the banks’ responses to their crises were admirable – opening branches on weekends and vowing to cover any financial losses incurred as a result of their failure – it has been completely eclipsed by the efforts of O2 and its social media team. Read more …