Last Friday afternoon a document; ‘The Communications Playbook’ V1, was widely leaked… (copy here).
… 15 pages of how to tell a pack of lies about HMG’s new hospital building programme and a blatant attempts by DH and NHSE press offices to censor local comm’s.
Here’s a flavour;
… share your timelines… include clearance of press notices…. we will endeavour to turn your requests around in 5 working days… more urgent requests… we will do our best to accommodate… … send copies of any press notices and corresponding handling plans in advance to [email address] ….along with details of the outlets you plan to issue your statements to… details of your spokesperson and those you have conducted interviews with.
Unless the DH are, forever, going to operate under the emergency provisions of the Covid Regulations, the DHNHSE, have no power to oblige Trusts to do this.
The whole purpose of the document is to distort the facts around HMG’s claims to be building 48 new hospitals… which they are not.
For the avoidance of doubt, the facts are;
It costs ≈£500m to build a new hospital. HMG have set aside £3.7bn to build 40… do the maths.
There are actual plans to build 6 hospitals; Whipps Cross, Epsom, West Herts, Princess Alexandra, Leicester and Leeds Teaching.
Of the 40; 26 are in a second phase, scheduled sometime between 2025-30.
Of the other 8, four are already being built, and four awaiting final approval.
More than half the projects are not new hospitals. They are rebuilding projects on existing sites, consolidations of other hospitals, or extra units.
To make matters worse, DHNHSE comm’s people have invented a definition of a 'new hospital'. Deception, idiocy?
Here it is;
A whole new hospital site on a new site or current NHS land…
A single service or consolidation of services on a new site;
A major new clinical building on an existing site or a new wing of an existing hospital, provided it contains a whole clinical service, such as maternity or children’s services;
A major refurbishment and alteration of all but building frame or main structure, delivering a significant extension to useful life which includes major or visible changes to the external structure.
I’m surprised they haven’t included the medicine cabinet in Number 19’s bathroom.
Why was the document so widely leaked?
I'm told; the recipients of the drivel we aghast at DHNHSE collapsing into a propaganda machine.
Our 200 or so Trust’s communicators exist to serve the public not the Conservative Party and want no part of it.
Trusts, Boards, NEDs and the organisations that claim to represent them should tell the DHNHSE where to put their ‘playbook’. What would happen? Nothing, they can’t sack everyone!
The Confed is missing action and Providers cling to access, without it, they’re out of business.
There’s a bigger message none of them will tackle. The utter futility of telling lies.
When stories are based on lies the press office inevitably becomes consumed with dealing with failure-demand… the demand placed on their resources defending their reputation, telling more lies about lies, instead of promoting their message.
Had their message been;
‘… we are putting all our resources into speeding through the development plans in-hand, extending hosptials and their services, phasing new developments, over 40 in total… please promote your local developments… we will help...’
I’d have been writing about something else and Twitter wouldn't have been choc-a-bloc with messages like this.
As it is, I’m writing about integrity and what turns honest professionals into liars.
Why they want to steal the truth from the people who are paying for the NHS. Watching, fundamentally decent people demolish their self-worth, hiding from reality.
Lies, misleading, managing the message, call it what you will. Why does it matter? Because the essence of the NHS is built on trust, truth and belief.
Why do people do it? Rewriting the dictionary, redefining the truth?
For their own benefit? For a quiet life? Because they are bullied? Because they’re enthral to BoJo?
They try and rationalise lies with euphemisms such as ‘presentation’, ‘lines-to-take’… developing a ‘helpful narrative’.
Over time lies become part of the organisation’s culture and the likes of DHNHSE become dismissed, marginalised and laughed at… "are they really trying to redefine ‘new’… yer ‘avin a laugh."
Kamikaze communicators trashing the credibility of the NHS and everyone struggling to do an honest day's work to make it trustworthy and at the same time, demolishing their own careers.
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