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Health and the NHS

Health and the NHS

Overarching communication objective: Improve the nation’s mental and physical health by driving positive behaviour change and helping people to access the highest quality care, when and where they need it.

Campaign key performance indicators (KPIs):
• Drive effective use of health services including A&E, primary care, Pharmacy First and dentistry – as well as access routes such as NHS 111 – to reduce NHS pressures and cut waiting lists.
• Increase use of digital routes to access general practice and wider NHS services (including via the NHS App) to improve patient experience.
• Encourage current smokers to quit and support the commitment to create a Smokefree Generation. 
• Improve outcomes for major conditions, such as cancer and strokes. 
• Support women to take positive action on their health across a range of reproductive and maternal health issues.
• Maximise uptake of childhood immunisations, seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. 
• Improve mental health support by encouraging usage of Every Mind Matters resources and access to NHS Talking Therapies services.
• Support parents to improve their child’s life chances and get them school ready.Increase blood, plasma and organ donation.

Communication offers a critical lever in ensuring people receive the care they need by accessing the NHS at the right time, in the right way. We will encourage the public to make effective use of health services, helping to reduce NHS pressures and cut waiting lists. 

Thanks to the widespread introduction of online forms on GP websites and new functionality in the NHS App, it is now quicker and easier than ever to access health and care services online. We’ll help people make the most of the NHS App by driving understanding of its new features and functionality. A new campaign will also tackle low awareness and uptake of these digital access routes for general practice (GP), empowering patients and freeing up GP phone lines for those who need them. 

The newly launched Pharmacy First scheme enables patients to get treatment and medicines from their local pharmacy for seven common conditions and has the potential to free up to 10 million GP appointments a year. A mass awareness campaign across broadcast and digital channels will encourage greater use of the scheme, while targeted activity will remind specific audiences to consider using pharmacy in their moment of need. 

To support the Government’s Dentistry Recovery Plan, we will promote the ‘New Patient Premium’, designed to help patients who haven’t been to a dentist in over two years to get an NHS appointment. An England-wide drive will maximise take-up of 2.5 million new appointments amongst those eligible. Alongside this, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) will encourage positive early brushing habits for babies and children, as part of the broader ‘Start for Life’ campaign. Start for Life shows the small things parents and families can do in early childhood to support lifelong emotional and physical health, as well as school readiness. The campaign signposts audiences to actionable resources and tools, and the support available from Family Hubs. 

Vaccines have made once-common deadly diseases rare, but falling vaccination rates put this progress at risk. Working with the UK Health Security Agency and NHS England, DHSC’s new, nationwide campaign will promote the benefits of childhood vaccination, ensuring parents and carers feel empowered and motivated to give their children the full course of their routine childhood vaccinations. Communication will also continue to play a crucial role in supporting the operational roll-out of flu and COVID-19 vaccines by encouraging take-up among eligible groups.

Managing winter pressures
Urgent and Emergency Care services experience high levels of pressure over the winter months. To help the NHS manage this, the ‘Help Us Help You’ campaign will drive use of the NHS 111 service – by phone, online and via the NHS App – so that more people can be assessed and directed to the right service for their needs. The annual autumn/winter campaign also encourages eligible people to take up free flu and COVID-19 boosters to protect themselves from serious illness and help reduce pressure on NHS services at their busiest time.

Smoking is the UK’s biggest preventable killer, causing around 1 in 4 cancer deaths and costing the economy and wider society £17 billion each year. In October 2023, the Prime Minister announced the most significant Government public health intervention in a generation to phase out smoking. Planned legislation will raise the age of sale for tobacco products year-on-year and introduce measures to reduce youth vaping, in a bid to create the first Smokefree Generation. 2024/25 will see a new programme of communication activity under the ‘Better Health’ brand to explain these changes, encourage people to join the Smokefree Generation and accelerate the rate of quit attempts among smokers.

We will support the NHS Long Term Plan’s ambition to provide better care for major health conditions. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the UK and is estimated to cost the UK £26 billion per year. Our ‘Act FAST’ campaign will encourage immediate action on stroke symptoms and help save lives. A programme of cancer prevention campaigns will also increase knowledge of ‘red flag’ symptoms and address underlying barriers around recognition, supporting our ambition to diagnose 75% of all cancers at stages 1 and 2. 

Organ, blood and plasma donors save and transform lives. We will increase the number of people recording an ‘Opt in’ decision on the NHS Organ Donation Register and encourage donations of vital blood and plasma through highly-targeted and tailored communications, as well as engagement with multicultural communities where more donors are needed. 

Led by DHSC in partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), the ‘Every Mind Matters’ campaign will continue to raise awareness of mental wellbeing guidance and tools. It will also tackle stigma around mental health and loneliness and ensure those who are struggling to cope with symptoms of anxiety and depression know how to access NHS Talking Therapies services.

A brand new campaign will also support women to take positive action and improve their health. We will work with a coalition of partners to reach women at various stages of their lives, encouraging them to access reproductive and maternal health care as and when they need it.