East Lancs NHS chiefs defend £500k spent on public relations and equality departments (From Blackburn Citizen)
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East Lancs NHS chiefs defend £500k spent on public relations and equality departments
NHS chiefs have hit back after a campaign group accused them of wasting more than £500,000 on unnecessary jobs which have ‘nothing to do with frontline care’.
Most of the cash went on press and communications officers, with the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) the biggest spender among organisations serving East Lancashire, according to 2013 figures published by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA).
The ‘Unnecessary Jobs in the NHS’ report said NWAS spent more than £244,000 on six public relations staff last year. Despite having much larger annual budgets than NWAS, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust (ELHT) told the Lancashire Telegraph they spend about £177,000 and £95,000 respectively.
All three of the trusts said the TPA figures were inaccurate or out-of-date, but only Lancashire Care and ELHT provided their current figures. An NWAS press officer claimed she could not provide the details in time for our deadline, saying the answer could only be given through a Freedom of Information request, which is a legal process which takes up to 21 days.
She added: “The trust does not agree with the Taxpayers’ Alliance view that jobs are unnecessary because they have the word ‘communication’ or ‘equality’ in the title.
“The communications team is required to deal with a wide range of activities including MP and local authority enquiries, responding to media enquiries, public events, educational campaigns and ensuring our workforce is kept up to date with trust activities, new operational instructions and news.”
Sue Moore, chief operating officer at Lancashire Care said: “The remit of these roles extends far beyond managing media relations to providing patient information leaflets, running campaigns to improve the health of local communities and the provision of web based information for their patients and the public to access and to also meet the requirements set out by the Freedom of Information Act.
“Communication teams also provide effective internal communications which supports staff engagement.”
But Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TPA, said: “Taxpayers expect the health budget to be spent on real doctors, not spin doctors. The NHS employs far too many people in jobs that do nothing to deliver frontline patient care.”
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