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Exceptional crisis
communications

NHS Nightingale Hospital North East

THE NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE HOSPITALS NHS FOUNDATION TRUST

Brief

To provide external, high level, strategic communications, PR and media management support to The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s internal team for the build and launch of the much anticipated (and at the time, to be constructed) NHS Nightingale Hospital North East.

Strategy

A tactical, impactful, crisis communications/management, stakeholder engagement and media relations programme that is alert and reactionary to mitigating circumstances outside of our control, yet highly proactive and progressive in delivering key information (public notices), up-to-date messaging and communications expertise to both internal and external audiences.

Audiences

The public, local MPs/political figures, authorities and dignitaries, NHS England, all employees of The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, local, national and international media (including print, broadcast, news/press agencies, online representatives).

Details

Little was known publicly about the proposed site due to the strictest confidentially, but the situation rapidly unfolded and was considered to be a historic, ‘witnessed once in any lifetime’ occurrence. Full documentation was crucial for future referencing/archiving (to refer back to if the same were to unfortunately happen/needed again).

The site became home to hundreds of construction companies/suppliers/military staff within hours of the announcement, and heightened media interest grew on an unprecedented scale. 24/7 live footage of the build was commissioned with daily press statements released when milestones were reached. Collaborative and trusted working relationships with journalists operating on a global, national and local media level were formed, with those invited to site being under the highest restriction levels. It was essential that this was fully communicated and understood for everyone’s safety to minimise possible contagion.

Media coverage and social media postings delivered key messages, and helped maintain and provide reassurance and confidence in the project. Media statements were written and distributed by Fusion during all construction stages as well as the launch event. ‘Goodwill’ video messages from local ‘celebrities’ including Ant and Dec, Alan Shearer, Brenda Blethyn and Tanni Grey-Thompson, were also obtained and generated for those hospital/medical staff working through an unprecedented health crisis. This showreel was used at the official launch event led by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Wessex.

Challenge

Media narrative, on a rare occasion, changed from being very positive, empowering news stories to questioning the money being spent by Government on something that may not be ever used. If certain media went searching for such news angles, Fusion helped counteract the argument by producing well balanced pieces with key messaging (eg why it was better to have an ‘insurance policy’ and back up that was never used but there 100% ready to go if needed to save lives, and if the site – 460 ventilated beds, was never used, that would be the best possible outcome as it meant the virus and all efforts to understand/contain it was being well managed by NHS teams on a local hospital/GP/vaccination level).

Activities

  • STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
  • CRISIS COMMUNICATIONS
  • EMPLOYEE RELATIONS
  • PR AND MEDIA RELATIONS/MANAGEMENT
  • VIDEOGRAPHY/PHOTOGRAPHY
  • EVENT MANAGEMENT
  • CREATIVE DESIGN