9. Public Messaging and Communications
A robust communication and engagement strategy is critical to the success and viability of the RUC Programme. Key to this success will be influencing public and staff behaviours to encourage adoption of the new model of care to support the strategic objectives of the RUC programme and introduce the Right Care, Right Place approach to service delivery. The communications strategy was intended to reach as many people as possible with a clear narrative for the public to understand the new pathways of care and potential benefits.
The campaign aimed to target all adults in Scotland and redirect the 20% of attendees to ED who would be better served by alternative service. Clear objectives were set to evaluate the penetration of the campaign including:
- Deliver prompted campaign recognition of 60% among the target audience.
- Ensure 40% of those who have seen the campaign agree with the following measures: the advertising feels relevant to me, makes it clear what we need to do.
- Encourage at least 40% of those who have seen the campaign to say they would take a relevant action if they needed to (eg, phone NHS 24 111 or visit NHS Inform).
- Ensure that at least 25% of those who have seen the campaign agree the advertising explains why it is important to phone NHS 24 111.
Additionally, the communication approach aimed to ensure communications reached groups with limited access to digital, TV etc.
It should be noted that agreed timelines for implementation of each element have been delayed and postponed several times to reflect emerging impacts on services including moving from a nationwide big bang approach to a more regional soft launch approach. This impacted on the analytic approach initially planned and the overall RUC Programme pace.
Local marketing and Social Media:
National assets were developed to give a consistent message to the public on a National NHS24 111 service for urgent care as the first response including that GP remained the default provider and only if intending to visit A&E to contact NHS 24 111 first.
National Door Drop Leaflet:
The national door drop leaflet/mailer was circulated to every household in Scotland in January 2021. The leaflet included a broad range of information on all available NHS services available, including a section on the new pathway for urgent care via NHS24 111. All campaign communications were sent to NHS 24's extensive network of 500+ community contacts for dissemination in relevant languages/formats. Analysis revealed:
- 66% of people recognised the door drop.
- 9/10 agreed it was clear which healthcare services were available, and where to go to get the most appropriate care for different types of medical condition.
- 85% of those who had read the leaflet said they would do something differently in the event of needing urgent care – most likely considering another service with NHS 24 being most common and/or using NHS Inform.
TV and radio publicity:
These elements of the campaign were due to take place in April/May; however this was delayed due to the service demands already on NHS 24 and deemed too high risk to proceed.
A TV campaign was felt to pose most risk,
Recommendations – Public messaging and marketing
- Encourage boards to maintain and step up local communications.
- Develop a revised national incremental public communication strategy based on risk including NHS 24 111 undertaking a readiness assessment prior to further national marketing to provide assurance.
- Undertake an evaluation covering those elements which have been delivered so far, including social media, digital marketing and press advertising, as well as local comms, which would then give more formal data and inform a (more) effective campaign.