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State of NHS communications

NHS Communicate

State of NHS communications

Strategic and effective communications is at the heart of high performing organisations in the NHS. Communications professionals play a pivotal role in ensuring their organisations engage effectively with patients, service users and local communities, helping local people understand how to access NHS services and how to prevent illness. They also lead on staff engagement with the NHS’ 1.4 million front-line employees – a critical task given the NHS is the UK’s largest employer, and the fifth largest employer in the world.

Like other parts of the NHS, the communications profession also faces opportunities and challenges at a time of constrained budgets, staff vacancies and in what is expected to be an election year. This report explores those issues in detail. It is one of the most comprehensive reports into the state of the profession ever undertaken. This benchmarking report has been produced by the NHS Confederation, NHS Providers and the Centre for Health Communications Research. It is published in partnership with healthcare communications specialists Freshwater and Grayling.

The report provides unique insights into the diversity of NHS communications leaders, their capacity and resources, ways of working, and what they regard as their key challenges. The centrepiece is a survey of almost 200 communications leaders, including 130 who identified as the most senior communications professional in their organisation (just under half of those working in England’s NHS trusts and integrated care boards).  

It shows the vital role communications professionals play, but also reveals areas where the profession is failing to make progress, including a continued lack of ethnic diversity among the profession’s most senior roles. The report makes recommendations for how this could be addressed.

The report was published at the annual NHS Communicate conference on 6 March 2024, where the findings were discussed and debated. 

Download the report

In partnership with:

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