Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The NHS Brand or Ronald McBrown on corporate identity.

Fellow bloggers and readers while doing some research for a post one of us stumbled across the NHS Brand Guidelines website.

Being good scientists and scholars we did study this website and if you have no surgeries or anything else constructive to do for the next week then we respectfully suggest that you trawl this website to see where tax payers’ money is being spent (on healthcare).

Go to the Homepage. Look to see what is in the centre: a section for dentists. Are we thick up North but when did anyone in this affluent area get access to a NHS dentist especially as an emergency?

Look at the rotating images and see how clean everything in the NHS is. We all know that actors and film, or photographers’, studios rarely see the number of patients in a day that real healthcare professionals and institutions do. Notice the subtle ethnic “diversity” and images of children being cared for by the benign “NHS brand” team of website designers as opposed to real healthcare professionals. Don’t the patients look so well and the staff so relaxed and rested?

Check out the About the NHS brand to learn that “this website is a central resource for all those involved in developing NHS communications”. Hmmh clearly no-one there talks to patients or to us on the frontline.

It finishes with the sentence “whether you are a communications professional working within the NHS, or an external supplier providing design or print services, our guidelines will show you how to use the NHS brand properly and effectively”.

Nice to know that the frontline staff in the NHS are being provided with all this vital information to help them treat patients. Next time we access an NHS print service as part of our families healthcare we will be greatly reassured.

Back to the Home page. There are 21 options in the drop down menu in the blue Welcome box. Being thick enough to be GPs we went straight to the last one “unsure?”
Reading this we found the following sentence:

If you're not sure where to fing the information you're looking for, . . .”

Clearly Vicki Pollard is now working for the NHS as a website designer and doing nothfing, whatever. But getting paid for it no doubt handsomely.

There is even a telephone number possibly a “NHS Identity Helpline” call centre? For the paranoid perhaps?

Try checking out the section we think might apply to us we think it is General Practice.

There is even a a 4.2Mb pdf document with a warning large file size (think steaming pile of cow dung) underneath it. It is 103 pages long and we suspect that a quick skip read of the first few pages will make the idea of hammering nails into your feet a more rewarding experience than reading the rest of the document. Go on give it a try. If you are not a GP there are loads of other such documents to download too some even bigger than ours!

Try reading the first page and see what it says, remember we found this site by accident:

This need has come from:

GP surgeries and primary care trusts (PCTs) asking us how to use the NHS brand within their surgeries

Of course we have been we have been banging on their doors for years asking how to use the NHS brand and we suspect that every other GP and medical blogger in the UK has been doing the same too.

Look at the bewildering array of options on the GP site which we have looked at and after an hour of research at the CafĂ© Michelle have barely scratched the surface of this hidden gem of NHS excellence in wasting tax payers’ money.

On the web page there are 3 GP categories. Unfortunately we fall into the D or Delta fraternity here at ND Central as we do not use the NHS brand on any of our Practice correspondence so no doubt there will be a visit soon from the NHS Brand Stasi for a spot of political reeducation or is that rebranding?

If you are still breathing after being underwhelmed by this marvellous website of Party speak (deep breaths, dear reader, think calming thoughts of steaming dung heap to counter any negative thoughts or emotions) then navigate to the Useful Links and click on the bottom link Tone of voice: Words and written communication.

Start reading this section and image the text being read by Telly Savalas as Ernst Stavros Blofeld in the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in a darkened room.

Read the section Respect, understanding and accessibility and see how communication should be. Anyone ever hear a PCT manager speak “free of jargon, free of acronyms and free of overly technical language”?

Clearly even the PCTs are not on message so we GPs have no hope but carry on listening to Mr Savalas’s dulcet tones in your imagination as you progress to bits that might just be relevant to GPs’ daily lives the “One-to-one communication with patients and the public”.

Every time you communicate with a patient or a member of the public, you are acting as an ambassador for the NHS. You are projecting the NHS identity. Remember, first impressions count, and what you say and how you say it will impact on that person’s confidence (positively or negatively) in our ability to do a good job.”

Now why were none of us told this in medical school? All those lectures, booklets and sessions on communication skills and we were not told that we were not doctors but were in fact ambassadors for the NHS constantly apologising for its inefficiences and difficiences. We did not realize we were projecting the NHS identity we thought we were being doctors.

How could we have got it all so wrong?

Praise be to the Party for enlightening our darkness as to what we are actually doing with patients – projecting the NHS identity. So much better than treating them and making them better. And this will not have cost the taxpayer a penny.

This is the polite version the grunt speak version is as follows: what a load of paired dangling male sexual organs contained in a sack. Money to burn anyone?


Anonymous said...

My local GP surgery has blatantly ignored the design guidelines for displaying the NHS corporate logo. I only wish that all practices boycotted this disgraceful attempt to corporatise the NHS. Many of us who have experienced the poor quality of NHS services are appalled by the attempt to window-dress an organisation which has come to represent one of the worst-managed state monopolies of all time.

Northern Doc said...

Thank you for commenting. Glad we are not alone in our thoughts re the NHS and its (mis)management.