“Earlier this year NHS England issued a diktat ordering hundreds of organisations to rework their publicity materials, claiming that inconstistencies could be fuelling pressures on Accident & Emergency units.
Under the new rules, every trust is told to place the NHS logo above the name of their organisation, instead of beside it.
Health officials said the move would cost just £23 per organisation, because trusts were told to only make changes when stationery runs out or signs need replacing.
But Freedom of Information disclosures reveal that NHS England spent £81,645 running focus groups and other “research fieldwork” and more than £30,000 on other running costs and analysis. Health officials had failed to provide the information until the Information Commissioner intervened to order the release of the information to the Telegraph.” …
Much of the funding was spent on a market research company which carried out 28 focus groups with members of the public, 1,000 interviews and nine workshops involving 100 communications officials.
The policies were then drawn up by NHS England’s identity team, which has two members of staff on salaries of between £56,000 and £69,000 and £40,000 to £48,000 each.
The exercise attracted criticism from health charities and hospital managers, saying it would divert precious funds and time at a time when the NHS is under precendented strain.
But health offiicals said the rules would reduce “confusion and concern” among the public.
A spokesman for NHS England claimed that inconsistencies in current use of the format could be resulting in “more people inappropriately defaulting to A&E.”
The main change is moving the “NHS” lozenge so it is above an organisation’s name – instead of beside.
Every organisation has been instructed to make changes to online publications by January and to make changes to physical signs when practical.
An email sent to trust managers explaning the rules, sent out earlier this year said: “Patients and the public are seeing the NHS identity in a range of diverse and inconsistent styles. This is creating confusion and concern.”
Research Works, the market research and consultancy firm based in St Albans, holds a string of contracts with the health service and its quangos, including NHS England, the Department of Health, and the Care Quality Commission.”