July 12th, 2010

The NHS’s Protected Doctors (Spin)

While the “front-line services” of the NHS may well be protected from the axe, it seems the Department of Health’s bloated “first-line of defence” could be ripe for a squeeze. Why exactly does Andrew Lansley and his ministers require more press officers and PR civil servants than the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office?

The list – 31 in total – range from a 10 strong news-desk, to strategic planners and multiple layers of spin. The Department has four full-time speech-writers – could some of the other 27 spinners not yell down the phone and occasionally type? Lansley has had his accident prone days and is known to put his foot in it, yet his old media team used to fit in the back of a transit van, but he still made it to government.

When other departments are slashing the public services they provide, having that many media-manipulators clucking around in the ring-fenced pen is absurd.

Spotted by Liam Murray.

149 Comments

  1. 1
    Sarah Tweet says:

    with family and friends at London Zoo yesterday – outdoors, freedom, lovely – now chained again to laptop
    http://twitter.com/SarahBrownUK/status/18340128936

    Like

  2. 2
    Tessa Tickles says:

    Even 31 spin-merchants will have trouble trying to convince the public that the NHS deathcamps hospitals are good value for money.

    Like

    • 29
      Nick2 says:

      So many spin doctors are a bargain – at least compared with the cost of delivering a real health service.

      Besides – the NHS is a huge organisation that seeks only to grow itself. If it were animal tissue, it might be described as cancerous.

      Like

      • 54
        AC1 says:

        The NHS is the idea that if you can’t afford to care for yourself you can force someone else to pay for themselves AND you.

        You should be able to see pretty clearly why this won’t work and instead kills.

        No wonder we need so much spin to cover up what a disaster the NHS is.

        Like

        • 62
          Tessa Tickles says:

          The NHS spin has a problem, though; doesn’t everyone have an NHS Disaster Story? I’ve got several of my very own, and from wider family and friends, the number is horrendous.

          Like

      • 58
        Tessa Tickles says:

        Spin as an alternative to a real service? You raise a very good point. I’m a fool not to have seen that one for myself.

        I’m worried about the NHS expanding. Since it already employs 1 in 20 of the workforce, if it expands any more we’re all be working there.

        Like

        • 108
          fishing 4 facts says:

          The NHS employs 1 in 20 of the workforce! Goodness it sounds huge! Oh, maybe that would explain the size of it’s press office.

          Like

    • 46
      horrorfan24 says:

      A radical thought here…….instead of spin, why not just tell us the truth, that way you wouldn’t need so many press officers to tell porkies.

      Like

    • 47
      Yoda says:

      A good idea it would be to strip out the management side of hospitals,too many of them there is

      Like

      • 93
        luke piewalker says:

        Get back to saving the universe you cuпt.

        Like

      • 112
        fishing 4 facts says:

        And just so you know, oh wise one, 11% – 12% of the NHS workforce is management. The average for the whole UK workforce is over 15%. What do you do Yoda?

        Like

    • 71
      amonymous says:

      It is time that people who don’t work for more than a year or two, except the genuinely disabled, are billed for NHS treatment: they would soon find work if they had to.

      Just like if we cut off housing support and all that most would simply go to live with family/friends and then get a job.

      Of course they would no longer vote Labour so of course McMong and Co wouldn’t do it but why can’t the “conservatives”?

      Like

  3. 3

    These people seem to share the same phone numbers, they must be press officers for the dissociative identity disorder department.

    Like

    • 6
      Mike Hunt says:

      I think we should be grateful that they share a phone line – heaven forbid that they waste taxpayers’ money on extras.

      Like

      • 51
        Kilobar says:

        elf n safty shud be called in.30 people all trying to answer the same phone at the same time? Also 30 lots of wages?Too much and Guido is on the button on this one.

        Like

        • 121
          Vint Cerf says:

          Kilobar you raise a good point. How many hospitals should be closed down on Health and Safety grounds?

          Like

  4. 8
    AC1 says:

    > When other departments are slashing the public services they provide, having that many media-manipulators clucking around in the ring-fenced pen is absurd

    They need to keep the proles thinking that the National Death Service isn’t a disaster.

    Like

  5. 10
    NHS Confident says:

    31 more folk on expenses, cars, travel etc. the cost must be hugeplus massive salaries and later on inflation linked pensions…

    Keep one and sack the rest.

    Like

    • 114
      fishing 4 facts says:

      Press Officers with expenses and cars and travel etc???? You genuinely haven’t got a clue. The sit, chained to a desk, answering phone calls and emails from journalists. They’re not expensive. Honestly.

      Like

  6. 13

    Press officer = spin merchant = bullshitter.

    Can you not just call them ‘bullshitters’ from now on Guido.

    27 bullshitters to deal with honest enquiries that then get fed bullshit.

    Sounds like the NHS is the area that is going to generate the most lies.

    Like

    • 44
      Can't remember my moniker says:

      And in that list above, all women bullshitters, except one called Peter (who knows, these days?)

      Probably all lesbos. Bullshitting, non-shagging, lesbos. What a waste!

      Like

    • 99
      The Ape Man Commeth says:

      27 spin doctors is easily trumped by labours bbc. They need more than 27 just to get past C4 news.

      Like

  7. 14
    Anonymous says:

    LieBour,Tory,Coalition; they’re all the bloody same.

    Like

  8. 19
    The Virger says:

    Had to deal with those buggers in a past life – almost all of them were lazy, up-their-own-backside, pompous, time-wasting lumps of expensive twattery. I believe I once encountered a helpful one but they left shortly afterwards.

    Like

    • 119
      fishing 4 facts says:

      If you had to deal with them in the past, you were probably a journalist. And if you had to call them it means you couldn’t find the information you were looking for. You lazy, time-wasting, expensive lump of uselessness. You know it’s people like you constantly asking pointless questions trying to create stories so you can sell them for your own profit that creates a need for press officers who we all have to pay for though our taxes. You leech on society.

      Like

      • 134
        The Virger says:

        No – nothing like that at all.

        Prat

        Like

        • 141
          fishing 4 facts says:

          No? Nothing like that at all?

          But they work for a press office.

          And one of them helped you once (before, unhelpfully, leaving).

          Why would the press office be unhelpful towards you if you weren’t a journalist?

          Also they obviously went well out of their way to antagonise you with tales of inflated salaries, subsidised sports cars and afternoons spent playing polo and sipping champagne. And they ostracised the poor fella who once unwittingly helped you (forced him to leave through a sustained campaign of bullying, which included never inviting him to the taxpayer funded weekly friday afternoon off at Alton Towers). They must have disliked you, whatever it was you did, Were you the IT guy?

          Like

  9. 21
    Wonga says:

    This NHS story is just he beginning. This policy could be the wedge to total privatisation and a take over by the American health providers. It will be far easier to influence, pressurise a harassed G P rather than a dedicated management professional. Having said that, there are far too many “managers” and hanger one’s in the NHS. If there was a complete root and branch re-evaluation of this extremely over-political body and effect restructuring and de-manning, significant cost could be obtained. Then this revised body could be assessed as to the best way forward which may then not be the elevation of the humble GP’s role!!

    Like

    • 56
      Grey Fellow says:

      It worked fine when it began.return to the 1948 model.Sorted.Matron

      Like

    • 101
      The Ape Man Commeth says:

      “This policy could be the wedge to total privatisation and a take over by the American health providers.”

      This was already started with labour implementing the centralised computer system, a pre-requisite, for obvious operational reasons, and something so expensive and potentially problematic (with no financial return) that they would have demanded was paid for out of the public purse before they moved in.

      Just another reason how little those who support the labour party realise what liebour really are.

      Like

    • 113
      AC1 says:

      I hope so. The extortion funded bureaucratic treatment rationing model that is the current NHS is good for one thing only. Giving the staff an easy time.

      It’s bad for patients, and terrible for the country.

      Like

  10. 22
    Number 10's cat says:

    I’m beginning to feel that the gov’t should called the coaLIEtion.
    Shape up folks, this prole’s getting restless.

    Like

  11. 23
    NBeale says:

    We should severely restrict the PR Budget throughout the NHS.

    This is one of the ideas at the Spending Chalenge website.

    Like

  12. 24
    Mr Ned says:

    Far beit from me to congratulate the NHS for anything (as my personal experience of the way the NHS has failed me personally has scarred me for life)

    BUT my elderly step-father was treated brilliantly and quickly. From his first symptom of a pain in his chest, to today has been about 3 months.

    In that time he saw the doctor, was referred to a specialist, was put on heart strengthening pills, was given 5 different scans, they found the start of lung cancer, operated and removed the lower lobe of his lung and he has already made an incredible recovery. A full blown cancer scare, treatment, cure and he received the all clear last week, all this inside 3 months… It was only 4 weeks from seeing the doctor to having the operation…

    All I can say is it was incredible and the NHS worked miracles for him.

    Credit where credit is due.

    Like

    • 89
      Going to Funeral says:

      hate to deflate your sails but it may help in the future. My next door neighbor rang and said he had pains,old guy 79.We got him to hospital were he was told he had stomach cancer but it too was operable. He came out and got declared all clear. 8 month later he had a few more twinges and went to see a new doctor,an Indian who could hardly understand him. He said there was no problem.This was 4 weeks ago.he died Friday.Make sure he keeps the specialist he had all along is the moral.

      Like

      • 127
        Aged fart says:

        But at 80 years of age does it not occur to you that he may have died from natural causes other than cancer?

        Like

  13. 26
    bergen says:

    And this is just the DoH.How many more are disributed among the myriad Boards,Trusts etc that have been created around the NHS?

    Like

  14. 27
    Anonymous says:

    actually external report suggested that the NHS was considered very highly compared to other nationaliites for VFM. I havent stopped laughing at where the Amercians came in the list… and they pay twice as much per person

    Like

  15. 32
    the roonification of britain says:

    Q: What have gay Daleks got in common with the NHS?

    A: Nothing. (although suggestions are welcome)

    Like

  16. 33
    Sir William Waad says:

    600,000 non-medical staff work for the NHS, according to its own statistics. Every one of them is completely necessary, even the extra staff who have been added by the stadiumful in recent years.

    Like

  17. 37
    Paul the Octopus says:

    I think it says more about Western society, it’s industries, and services (both public and private than that.) I know many here laugh and point at the many “non jobs” in public services such as the outreach workers, awareness workers, etc. etc. But when you look at society as a whole there is second layer of accepted non-jobs, personnel officers, safety officers, marketeers, etc. which producer nothing but cost. Do you think the average Chinese factory has layers and layers of bureaucracy? No. Its the middle classes creating work (well sinecures) for themselves at the cost of society. Never ever have a job where you have to deliver……

    Like

    • 66
      Upsatairs Chamber of commerce says:

      every business and every school that teaches business say advertising is a waste of money. Every body agrees it is. So why the fuck are there so many employed in this wastage business?

      Like

      • 124
        fishing 4 facts says:

        Eh? What business school did you go to? Lets just have a quick look at the most enormous global brands out there… Coca Cola (and what a great example, father christmas is commonly portrayed in red and white because of Coca Cola advertising), McDonalds, IBM, Microsoft, Gillette. Mmmmm, massive advertisers, each and every one. You should ask for your money back…

        Like

        • 126
          fishing 4 facts says:

          … you idiot.

          Like

          • HenryV says:

            Not all advertising is wasteful. But are you seriously saying f4f that your purchasing choices are swayed by all these stunts from billboard posting to logo’ed pens and frippery? Me thinks not.

            Do you really buy Coala over Pepsi because of their adverts?

            Paul the Octpus is right to some extent. There are too many people in pretend jobs not producing stuff. My personal hate is personnel offices. At my last job they were either frightful dragons of women who were as incompetent as they were ugly. Or bits of young fluff shagging managers and spending most of their time out of the office supposedly working, more often that not shopping in Manchester.

            Like

          • fishing 4 facts says:

            Henry, I have no issue with Eight-legged-(or is it armed)-psychic-Paul’s comments at all. Perfectly reasonable observation and opinion. It was the chamber of commerce asserting that “every business and every school that teaches business says advertising is a waste of money, and everyone agrees”. That is complete twaddle It might be true that all businesses wish they didn’t have to spend money on advertising (obvious). It’s certainly true that not every piece of advertising will convince everyone. And obviously you can only talk people into buying a piece of shit once. But it’s naive to think that in general terms it doesn’t work. It does.

            Like

  18. 38
    Must get a pseudonym one day says:

    As all the HR operation of the NHS are now IT-based, it should only take a simple FOI request for a full anonymised listing of every individual employee’s job title, job description, salary and location.

    That would present the seed-corn for a speedy exercise of bullshit-cleansing throughout the organisation. If they can’t justify the job, the job goes.

    Not only those PR puffers, but all the diversity co-ordinators, random development officers and every other waste-of-space they employ in batallions. We’d soon get the same service for half the cost.

    Like

  19. 39
    Only another 750,000 to go... says:

    ” Bullshi**ing across the Universe” to the music of Star-trekking.

    Like

  20. 45
    Centre Parting says:

    I have just received, via the Postman, a booklet entitled ‘Where to find health services in Stratford District’ – usual waste of public money.

    However it does have a section on ‘Sexual Health’ with another under it entitled
    ‘Active Members’.

    Like

  21. 48
    Grumbler says:

    Why else would one do ‘media studies’ at shit-hole poly (‘er sorry) yuvadversity.

    Like

    • 104
      Lil Olmey says:

      Media studies ….. is that the same as watching telly ?

      Like

      • 138
        Anonymous says:

        Used to run a pr company all the Sebastians and Tarquins would be phoning every other day begging for a job as they now had their meejahhh degree. I used to tell them the council is looking for bin men, which is about the leve of job a media degree qualifies you for. Hunts.

        Like

  22. 49
    Alex says:

    That’s just the Secretary of State for Health. I think you will find there are about 5,000 press officers and communications people across the entire NHS and DH.

    Like

  23. 50

    I often meet up with a group of Doctor friends, with Range Rovers, Mercs and Porches they refer to it as the National Wealth Service for obvious reasons.

    Like

  24. 61
    Sheep says:

    If I was a Labour sheep I would support Andy Burnham for next labour leader. He is the only likeable candidate & the least tainted.

    Like

  25. 63
    Ed Balls says:

    Does anyone know where I can buy a ‘DONATE’ button?

    Like

  26. 65
    Ed Miliband says:

    You can use mine you thick fucker?

    Like

  27. 67
    Fu**ed off says:

    It’s such a crying shame that the NHS is something that ‘must’ be worshipped at all times and in all places. To say anything bad about it, the services or staff is tantamount to treason in the eyes of 99% of the population – the fucking media included. Nurses and doctors are not saints, they are normal people like you or I.

    Fuck the NHS I say.

    It’s good in places but crap in many others. I resent paying for it at the same times as having private medical insurance. I should get a bloody refund. In much the same way that, as childless, I should get a refund in lieu of what I pay to the:

    1. Police force/service/agency
    2. Council
    3. Education
    4. etc.

    Now that would be a REAL market economy.

    Like

  28. 69
    Camerons Tories love the EU says:

    If you think this is bad you should be looking at DFID – the sacred cow of the left & quite possibly the most corrupt, inept & wasteful department in British Government history.

    You really could not make it up .

    Like

  29. 75
    Cato Street Conspirator says:

    A mate of mine was responsible for drawing up the proposed cuts in his department many years ago. I asked him how he did it. ‘I draw a protective ring round my section and then start chopping’.

    Like

  30. 78
    Fu**ed off says:

    Why don’t they subcontract the ‘press’ function out to India? Most organisations are sending jobs there as fast as they can.

    What the hell do they do all day? I bet 95% of their time is taken up spinning to the media – taking fucking ‘journalists’ out to lunch etc. It’s like a big money-go-round.

    Sack the lot of them and see if there’s any difference.

    Like

  31. 78
    Daily Politics says:

    Brillo about to interrogate Andy Burnham. Will he go easy on him?

    Like

  32. 83
    The Court of Public Opinion says:

    Anyone remember Nick Clegg telling us during the leaders debates we needed more truthfulness and transparency? Ahh, those were the days. In fact he was right, the problem is that’s still what we need whereas what we got was more of the same army of spindoctors to tell us where the cuts should be.

    Like

  33. 91
    Moaty says:

    In the words of that Simple Minds song, don’t yowze forget about me, like!

    Like

    • 95
      moat the scrote says:

      Awaah, ahm in geordie heaven now like, Newcassell are premier champions every fookin yeear, and yesterdeay England won the world fookin’ coop!

      Like

  34. 92
    Brillo says:

    My periods have synchronised with Jo Coburn’s

    Like

  35. 94
    Sims PR says:

    I know he nearly blew your face off but we need you badly on this one,and it’s an order anyway. We want you to say you don’t hold any grudges against Moat. (advance 3 weeks. Mr Moat was mentally ill )See how it can backfire?

    Like

    • 102
      Make them all walk. says:

      Nell,you can tell us. Is it that you are so quiet during the day that you are in
      fact Worzle Sims of the Cumbrian Constabulary? Go on Nell,get it off your chest.
      PS.Is that a syrup you wear?

      Like

  36. 105
    Civil Servant says:

    How many PR employees would a private sector organisation with a £110bn turnover have?

    Like

    • 107

      Why does the NHS, a state monopoly, need to do PR?

      Like

      • 120
        Susie says:

        Very very very good point, young Fawkes.

        A similar one could be made for the BBC’s multi-million £ trailers and fillers.

        Like

      • 132
        Realist says:

        It doesn’t. But it does need a press office – I imagine quite a few journalists (and maybe even the odd blogger) spend quite a lot of time demanding explanations, facts, information etc. Perhaps the NHS should just give put media enquiries straight through to doctors in order to save money?

        Like

        • 137
          Justice Monitor says:

          Nah – GPs won’t have time with all the extra financial admin they will have to do by getting more responsibility.

          Like

          • fishing 4 facts says:

            You mean they’ll be too busy dictating (I mean ‘negotiating’) the pay rise they’ll receive for taking on the extra burden, and re-hiring the people that used to do it for the the PCT’s, to do it for them.

            Like

  37. 106
    Postal Vote says:

    No comment, you’ve got to call the other press officer!

    PS How many union apparatchiks are on Whitehall payrolls?

    Like

  38. 115
    Moaty was kil-led by tasering pigs says:

    Who is the pr-am-faced bi-t-ch? She was born with a sil-ver sp-oon in her mouth and has never done a days work in her wo-rth-less life.

    Why not have a psych-ologist and some IT special-ists advising, instead of this useless parasitic cu-nt, Mart-ha Lan-e Fo-x.

    Im sure the conclusion by reasonable people would be that 10% of the population are too thi-ck to use the internet, and another 10% are just not interested. And that spending £billions forcing idi-ots and the uninterested to have internet access is a massive waste of Public money.

    It is becoming ludicrous that all these e-vil grabbing worthless sla-gs who got some sh-ite degree in shit from Cam-bridge, can just hop on the gr-avy train and get paid huge sums of Public money, to come up with deme-nted ideas to waste £billions.

    I hope this fuc-king sl-ag gets sha-nked in the face.

    I bet what is really behind all this – the fil-th in parliament want free broadband installing in their remote holiday cot-tages, and will waste £billions just to same themselves a few hund-red quid. MPs are are loat-hsome thieving s-hit.

    Like

    • 118
      Internet Tough Guy About To Become Real Life Tough Guy says:

      I will personally see to their deaths if they legalise free broadband for themselves while introducing the much talked about ‘internet license’ on us plebs.

      Like

  39. 116
    Anonymous says:

    Could all these unhealth (direct) related jobbies be something to do with empire building and jobs for former “helpers”, management always thinks the more direct people under them, the mightier they are, thatis until the bubble bursts.

    Like

  40. 117
    Slitty Eyes says:

    If muslims stop marrying their cousins and breeding disabled babies then it wouldn’t be one of the top 5 strains on the NHS at the moment.

    Like

  41. 122
    3rd man says:

    Manyd’s book is already half price and it hasn’t even been released yet.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Third-Man-Life-Heart-Labour/dp/0007395280?&camp=2486&creative=10522&linkCode=waf&tag=ggn-21

    Like

  42. 123
    StrongholdBarricades says:

    Do any of them answer any questions?

    Did any of them get involved with the Mid Staffs debacle?

    Like

  43. 130
    Desert Rat says:

    Tumbrils at dawn please

    Like

  44. 133
    Anonymous says:

    I can’t believe you didn’t take the opportunity to look further down the list to the name Sharan Chagger. Poor, Mr G, poor.

    Like

  45. 135
    Tory Boy Insider says:

    Hold on Guido old chap, as a Conservative in Whitehall, you’re targeting the wrong department. DoH press officers are know as slave workers compared to the rest of those numpty departments in Whitehall – they work very long hours and provide a 24 hour service which is thoroughly used by journalists as there are health stories all the time.

    It is the journalists that keep them in business and 24 hour news, if they stopped doing health stories, there won’t be a need for press officers. Besides officials cant’ say anything in plain English even if they tried – ever tried getting an engineer to write an article in plain English? Press officers are conduits of information flow and sure if it means society cannot speak good English resulting in more press officers, its a sad fact of life.

    Also I very much doubt the health correspondents at the Telegraph, Mail and Express that enjoy good working relationships with the DoH press office would like speaking to a call centre in India who can’t understand what the f*** is being asked or the health report they need an answer to.

    Getting rid of Health quangos, PCTs, SHAs etc will mean getting of press office operations in those organisations and increasing the workload on DoH press officers – their average salaries as civil servants are about £30k or less if they are lucky, tube drivers earn over £40k for working far less hours.

    Target the Whitehall press offices who get no news and are never busy yet still justify a high number of press officers.

    Or just ask ministers to do everything themselves in all areas of health policy ie press work, speeches etc and then there would be no need for press officers.

    Like

  46. 139
    Anonymous says:

    Maybe if journalists and “bloggers” stopped calling and asking for “the departments position on XY or Z stupid pointless none story” then they wouldn’t need so many press officers!

    Its not “spin” when a journalist calls and asks for information like “how much money was spent on X and the press officer tells them!

    I think if you admit that you don’t have a clue what these people do like a lot of people in these comments that should be a clear sign that given you don’t know what your talking about you should keep your trap shut?!

    Like

  47. 145
    fishing 4 facts says:

    And actually Guido slightly distorted the thrust of the original, which complained mainly about the number of speechwriters in the department, and admitted that a large department like the DoH would need a large Press Office.

    Like

  48. 147
    Anonymous says:

    I personally think they all deserve pay rises and if we can’t afford that then shouldn’t close a hospital to raise funds?!

    Like


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Owen Jones says:

We also need Zil lanes.


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