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Pessimism on both sides of the pond? PRimage comment

Friday, July 15th, 2011

In the UK we are going through tough times, but Americans are deeply pessimistic about the future, according to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll – over 63% believe that their country is on the wrong track.

We found this an interesting article and viewpoint on the dynamics across the pond: This Is No Time for Games – WSJ.com http://t.co/gt6tfTB

PRimage has read that a rule of thumb in presidential polling is that when the “wrong track” number is in the “60s,” the incumbent’s prospects for re-election are sharply diminished.  Watch this space!

Budget 2011 – PRimage Comment: Not bad, given the circumstances!

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Spent time this afternoon trying to assess the Budget announcements …. And overall, our view at PRimage is: ‘not too bad, considering the circumstances’. The eye-catching Budget headlines are, of course, on fuel and corporation tax. Nice to finally see a little bit of light relief for the motorists of this country!

As the owner of a small business, Judy Viitanen was especially interested in the announcements relating to business – noted George Osborne signalling his desire to merge National Insurance and income tax. Osborne is ideologically a fiscal conservative, and this move paves the way for a low-tax future, by convincing Brits they pay too much tax!

Osborne also announced the Government’s Plan for Growthhttp://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/ukecon_growth_index.htm?dm_i=3QN,E7KN,K8LG6,14ROS,1 – a package of measures aimed at supporting private sector investment, enterprise and innovation. This includes measures to increase the competitiveness of the UK tax system; reduce the burden of regulation; and increase incentives for business investment.

Key measures in the Budget for businesses include:

  • A reduction in the main rate of corporation tax by a further one per cent. From April 2011, the rate will be reduced to 26 per cent with further yearly reductions of one per cent until 2014 when it will reach 23 per cent;
  • New Controlled Foreign Company rules to allow groups based in the UK to compete more effectively with those based overseas;
  • The abolition of 43 tax reliefs whose rationale is no longer valid – following recommendations from the Office of Tax Simplification;
  • Dropping existing proposals for specific regulations which would have cost business over £350m a year;
  • £100m for local authorities to repair potholes caused by the cold winter weather;
  • Increase the rate of R&D tax credits for small and medium-sized enterprises from 175 per cent to 225 per cent by April 2012;
  • 21 new Enterprise Zones, to focus growth in specific parts of the UK;
  • Fuel duty will be cut by one penny per litre from 6pm on March 23. The April 2011 inflation-only increase in fuel duty will be deferred to 1 January 2012; the April 2012 increase will be implemented on 1 August 2012;
  • A further increase to the income tax personal allowance for under 65s of £630 to £8,105 in April 2012;
  • Additional work experience placements and additional apprenticeships for young people;
     
  • Help for homeowners facing difficulties by extending the temporary changes to the Support for Mortgage Interest Scheme for an additional year and providing £250m to support first time buyers to purchase a new-build property.

Prescription charges in England increased – PRimage comment

Friday, March 4th, 2011

PRimage is not happy that as from April 1st the Government is to increase prescription charges for patients in England by 20 pence to £7.40 per item! This is in contrast to the decision this week by the Scottish Parliament to abolish charges for patients north of the border …

As a specialist healthcare lobbyist, with in-depth knowledge on the issues surrounding the system of prescription charges, Judy Viitanen has long believed that the current system in England is totally unfair and needs reviewing. PRimage have consistently lobbied and supported the well-argued case for a total abolition of prescription charges: it is an important issue that has growing public support. In our opinion, free prescriptions are a long term investment in improving health. Free prescriptions should be seen as a long term investment in improving health – and would be beneficial for those with poorer health and in particular those with long term conditions.

The business value of trade shows

Friday, March 4th, 2011

At PRimage we are great fans of trade shows: if used strategically they can prove to be great value for our healthcare clients in the UK and the US.  

Aside from the opportunities for selling, reinforcing existing business relationships, gaining new clients and contracts and launching new products; exhibitions and trade shows also offer companies the benefit of learning and understanding more about the latest trends in their industry, and crucially to gain knowledge about their competitors.

So, we are interested at the findings of a new piece of research from PricewaterhouseCoopers which shows that trade seminars, face to face business meetings and the like have pumped nearly $1 trillion into the American economy. Cumulatively, these events created 1.7m jobs!

Need To Get Noticed? Try Third-Party Endorsement, says PRimage

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Looking for some postive ‘buzz’? Don’t have a big budget?  Don’t worry.  Primage MD, Judy Viitanen, says that getting your company, product or service noticed and talked about by customers – and increasing your sales – really doesn’t mean spending hundreds or even thousands of pounds on an advertising campaign. Sometimes the greatest customer buzz costs nothing at all.

Over the years, PRimage has discovered that Third-party endorsements are one of the best ways you can achieve interest in your business without spending a lot of money. Expensive advertising campaigns, no matter how exciting, do not guarantee your success. Third party endorsements don’t require the same overhead and pose much less of a financial risk. While you may not get blanket national interest, you can certainly generate buzz, build your clientele and increase your profits.

The media can be a powerful partner in helping you build your business. Third-party coverage from reputable media outlets is recognised as an objective, credible endorsement. Customers certainly take note …

For example … You see an ad for a new local Indian take-away restaurant; it claims to have the best curries in the area. It catches your interest, but then again every restaurant ad says they have the best food and menus. Then you read an article by the local newspaper restaurant reviewer who raves about the choice and quality, deeming it the best he’s ever had.

Which is going to really convince you to try that restaurant? Chances are the restaurant review is going to give you the push you need. Third-party endorsements – whether by the media, a local organisation or a prominent member of your community – give your product or service the validation for which customers often look.

To find out more, and discuss your publicity needs, please contact Judy Viitanen at PRimage, on: +44(0)17278744137, Mobile: 07717691845, or Email: judy@primage.org

Day Lewis announces its commitment to the new Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Day Lewis, the UK’s largest independent pharmacy group, has today announced that they will for the first time pay the membership fee for their employee pharmacists, when the renewal for new Royal Pharmaceutical Society takes place at the end of February 2011.  This is a significant step for Day Lewis and signifies their support for the Society in its first 12 months as an independent professional body.

Day Lewis said that membership of the Society is important to encourage professionalism among its pharmacists and to ensure that they have access to the most up to date pharmacy information and guidance materials.  They recognize that their pharmacies need skilled, supported and motivated professionals to maintain Day Lewis’ commitment to helping people in the community to stay healthy and to feel better. Competitive advantage depends increasingly on quality services – and patients’ trust in the professionals delivering them and that trust helps to build customer loyalty.

Kirit Patel, CEO at Day Lewis Pharmacy told PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen:

“I passionately believe that it is important for pharmacists who want to see a ‘leading from the front’ organisation that they become part of the new professional body. I am clear about the benefits of joining the professional leadership body. I hope that other pharmacists will feel the same – and be aware of its value in enhancing their professional kudos and reputation.

I am a great believer that only through one unifying, strong voice will pharmacy ever be recognised and excel. For many years I have long held the opinion that we needed a robust, influential, supportive and unifying professional body that provided comprehensive leadership, and was recognised by its membership and external stakeholders as a leader and visionary in pharmacy affairs. am proud to join the new professional body – and I am confident that it will respect members’ views and aspirations, and support them professionally and educationally.”

Helen Gordon, Society Chief Executive said: “Pharmacists who work for Day Lewis will benefit from Society support and development.  This will ensure they have the knowledge and skills to provide the level of quality needed to encourage patient trust in pharmacy services. Day Lewis have shown a commitment to the profession by supporting pharmacist employees in this way and it is a great endorsement of how being a member of the Society is a fundamental part of a pharmacist’s professional identity.”

The 2011 membership year will start on 1 March.

NHS Bill: Sound bites round-up

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

PRimage has been busy assessing reactions from various healthcare bodies to the NHS Bill, announced this afternoon … Lansley has had to contend with a huge amount of criticism of his NHS reforms, much of it dramatically expressed, by many of they key organisations representing doctors and other NHS organisations. Public supporters have been hard to find amongst the host of warnings and reservations! Judy Viitanen especially enjoyed the Titanic analogy used by Unison, who said that the Health Bill is a ‘disaster’ of Titanic proportions’ and which threatens to sink our NHS”

Here’s a listing of top line sound bites …
RCGP
‘makes sense’ for health professionals to be involved in the planning of services, but the proposals risk ‘destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes’

‘we must guard against fragmentation and unnecessary duplication within a health service that is run by a wide array of competing public, private and voluntary sector providers, that delivers less choice and fewer services, reduces integration between primary and secondary care and increases bureaucratic costs’.

Patient choices as outlined in the Bill ‘run a risk of destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes’. The RCGP has also yet to receive sufficient evidence to be reassured the plans would prevent this from happening.

BMA
The BMA said ploughing ahead with the reforms at the speed proposed was a ‘massive gamble’.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: ‘The BMA supports greater involvement of clinicians in planning and shaping NHS services, but the benefits that clinician-led commissioning can bring are threatened by other parts of the Bill.’

‘Forcing commissioners of care to tender contracts to any willing provider, including NHS providers, voluntary sector organisations and commercial companies, could destabilise local health economies and fragment care for patients.

‘Adding price competition into the mix could also allow large commercial companies to enter the NHS market and chase the most profitable contracts, using their size to undercut on price, which could ultimately damage local services.’

Royal College of Physicians
Supports the shift towards putting clinicians and patients in the driving seat but is concerned the Bill doesn’t require specialists to be at the heart of commissioning.
‘The scale and pace of change – and the challenge of unprecedented efficiency savings – should not be underestimated. Neither should the risks if we get this wrong.’

Unison
The public sector union, called the Health Bill a ‘disaster’ of Titanic proportions’. Karen Jennings, head of health at Unison, said: ‘This Titanic health bill threatens to sink our NHS. The only survivors will be the private health companies that are circling like sharks, waiting to move in and make a killing.

‘Lansley has turned his back on the warnings from across the medical establishment that these changes are unnecessary, undemocratic and unlikely to deliver improvements in patient care. We need a U-turn from the Government.’

Unite
Bill is ‘a charter for private profit at the expense of patients care’.
‘It is clear that one of the biggest influences on Tory ideology regarding health policy has been the massive and insidious lobbying by the  private healthcare companies, which have opened their cheque books for David Cameron big-time.’
‘The GP consortia, the supposed vanguard of this so-called reform programme, will be juggling financial decisions with the help of the private healthcare companies they will buy-in, versus the needs of their patients – this is a stark conflict of interest. Patients should always come first.’

The Nuffield Trust
Reforms are ‘broadly in the right direction’ but they will have to be judged on the extent to which they deliver – with minimum disruption – sustained improvements to patient care during a period of major financial challenge for the NHS.

‘The NHS is at a fork in the road. It embarks on this period of reform with much strength but the pressures it faces over the next four years will continue to rise. ‘Given the reforms over the past 20 years the Government’s decision to devolve more responsibility to the front line is logical. However, this approach carries significant risks in today’s financial climate and needs to be managed very carefully.’

General Healthcare Group
The UK’s largest private hospital group, welcomed the proposed reforms and said it was ‘only right’ the NHS, private and third sector providers worked together in austere times.
‘In our view, the challenge for instituting these reforms will be about maintaining the pace of change and how instability during the period of transition is minimised.’

The King’s Fund
The Bill signals the biggest shake-up of the NHS since its inception
‘But, while the government’s reforms have the potential to improve the NHS, they will be implemented against the backdrop of the biggest financial challenge in its history. ‘Finding the £20bn in efficiency savings needed to maintain services must be the overriding priority, so the very real risk that the speed and scale of the reforms could destabilise the NHS and undermine care must be actively managed.’

NHS Confederation
Urged MPs to ‘forensically analyse’ the Health Bill.

‘We support the objectives behind this legislation but there are huge risks and major uncertainties associated with it. ‘The system is already geared up for change and we can not afford for these reforms to fail – the public will not forgive us. The focus in parliament has to be on making this work on behalf of patients.’

CBI
‘We support the Government’s plans to modernise the NHS, because this will lead to better services for patients, and ensure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. ‘Allowing the best provider to deliver healthcare services, whether they are a private company or a charity, will spur innovation and choice. But bidders must be able to compete for contracts on a level playing field.’

Can GP-consortia learn from US experience?

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

The UK influential and independent health think-tank, The Nuffield Trust, certainly thinks so – and PRimage finds their new report on the US experience and insights from American medical organisations makes for fascinating reading: http://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/publications/

The report sets out the lessons that the nascent GP consortia in England will need to learn from the experience of groups of doctors in some parts of America, which have been commissioning healthcare for patients, with a budget to match, for up to 20 years. It suggests that these new groupings of family doctors will need excellent leadership, management and IT support if they are to work well, and that there are ‘clear risks of introducing GP commissioning in England when the Government has placed such a strong emphasis on reducing management costs.’

NHS Bill – A Healthy Prescription?: PRimage comment

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

As PRimage see it there are pros and cons for this radical overhaul of the NHS. It’s a huge risk – and yes, of course it will bring massive organisational upheaval – but we should remember that the Govt needs to find 4% NHS efficiency savings a year for 4 years to keep up with rising demand!

The new policies will mean ministers essentially giving up day to day management of the service – opting instead to set annual priorities and measures of improved health outcomes for a national commissioning board. This board will performance-manage consortia of GPs to whom it will have to hand well over half the English NMS’s £100bn budget, with which to commission care locally. The worry is that this commissioning board will simply be a substitute DoH – but without a public health remit.

PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen, is a former District Councillor – and strong supporter of localism – so she’sencouraged by the policy to transfer much of public health to local authorities, who in turn will get strengthened scrutiny powers over GPs’ plans. And as a healthcare communicator and lobbyist, she is hoping that increased NHS investment in clinical care, and a focus on proactively improving health outcomes will help the treatment of cancer and other serious conditions – and ultimately bring swifter and better care closer to patients.

“12 months to save the NHS” – PRimage comment

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Public services reforms is the headline media story today – as David Cameron defends NHS reform plans, saying: ‘doing nothing will end in tears’ – http://bit.ly/e6T5VU
The key is for Education Secretary Michael Gove and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to win over their sternest critics and also win the hearts and minds of the public that these radical changes are what’s needed – and will get results. Everyone in this country faces difficult times ahead – and it’s crucial that that the Government  gets these issues right! …

The Government’s new health policies are aimed at improving NHS performance, reducing bureaucracy and improving the outcomes of treatment for patients. As a specialist healthcare communications consultancy, PRimage totally agree with this – but Judy Viitanen shares some of the concerns voiced by healthcare professionals that the radical shakeup of the NHS could lead to a two-tier health service.

This country certainly needs to tackle its health and social inequalities – and in our opinion the Dept of Health must start to focus on dealing with health inequalities that those members of the community who either aren’t registered with a GP, or see no value in accessing healthcare, continue to suffer. So in this era of NHS reforms it is critical that reducing inequalities becomes a key focus for frontline health providers: not just GPs, but also community pharmacists.