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Archive for June, 2007

Brown’s Cabinet re-shuffle – latest

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Confirmed Appointments: Harriet Harman – Deputy Leader and Party Chair; Douglas Alexander – General Election Co-ordinator

Leaving Government: Tony Blair (Prime Minister); John Prescott (Deputy Prime Minister); John Reid (Home Secretary); Lord Goldsmith (Attorney General); Hilary Armstrong (Cabinet Office Minister); Margaret Beckett (Foreign Secretary); Patricia Hewitt (Health Secretary)

Both Beckett and Hewitt are leaving their posts but it it not confirmed if they are leaving Government.

Downing Street Advisers: Tom Scholar, Chief of Staff and Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister; Michael Ellam, Director of Communications and the Prime Minister’s Spokesman; Gavin Kelly*, Deputy Chief of Staff; Spencer Livermore*, Director of Political Strategy; Sue Nye*, Director of Government Relations; Dan Corry*, Head of Policy Unit; Damian McBride*, adviser to the Prime Minister on political press issues; Jeremy Heywood, Head of Domestic Policy and Strategy; Jon Cunliffe, Head of International Economic Affairs, Europe and G8 Sherpa; Simon McDonald, Head of Foreign and Defence Policy.

* denotes Special Adviser.

PRimage comment:

Judy Viitanen is sure that there must be a lot of Labour MPs anxiously waiting for a call from Brown …..

Hewitt to stand down as Health Secretary!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

For all those like Judy Viitanen and PRimage, who have despaired at her inept handling of the NHS, it is welcome news that Pat Hewitt is to stand down as Health Secretary. No official announcement as yet on her replacement — but the pundits suggest Alan Johnson as a key contender.  As a specialist healthcare communications and public affairs consultant, Judy Viitanen rates him very highly – he’s a very able parliamentarian – and PRimage think he would be a safe and experienced choice for the Health portfolio.  But our personal choice for Health Secretary would be Caroline Flint, the current Public Health Minister.  She’s got a great track-record of achievement and success in delivering on the crucial area of public health. 

It appears that in a letter to the new Prime Minister, Ms Hewitt said she had decided to step down from Government so she could give more time to her “constituency and family”. Although Mr Brown had offered to keep her in the Cabinet she felt it was the “right moment” to go.

PRimage comment

Thank goodness the ghastly ‘nanny Hewitt’ is going!  As Judy Viitanen has commented in recent blogs, she was hotly tipped to be the first head to roll in Brown’s cabinet reshuffle.  Many health professionals will be relieved that she will no longer be at the helm of the DoH and NHS.  PRimage think that very few will miss her!  Watch this space for more updates on the new Cabinet appointments ….

The PHARMAs For Pharmacy Awards 2007 – Call For Entries

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Don’t forget to Enter The PHARMA’s For Pharmacy Awards!
Entry Deadline: August 17, 2007

Go to http://www.pioneershows.co.uk for more information and to complete your online nomination.

Questions? Contact Pioneer Shows Ltd on Tel: 0870 333 1277, Fax: 0870 333 1288, Email: info@pharmawards.co.uk

PRimage comment

Judy Vitanen and the PRimage team are handling publicity for The PHARMA For Pharmacy Awards, an exciting and innovative new awards programme, which celebrates excellence in Pharmacy and rewards individuals. It has the support of 21 representative organisations and bodies, and embraces all aspects of Pharmacy – bridging community, hospital, academic, industry, veterinary, primary and secondary care roles. There is no restriction on who may lodge a nomination – pharmacists can self nominate, or nominate a colleague or pharmacy team. Involvement from other healthcare professionals is welcomed, who are invited to nominate a pharmacist colleague or team. 

Brown’s cabinet: winners and losers?

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Ahead of his appointment as prime minister on Wednesday, the chancellor is today putting the finishing touches to his first cabinet following a speech to party members in Manchester on Sunday, when he was confirmed as Tony Blair’s successor.

Judy Viitanen understands from political sources that he is expected to bring on a new generation of Labour talent, with ministers such as Ed Balls and James Purnell singled out for promotion. Those most likely to be sacked include Patricia Hewitt, who Mr Brown believes has bungled the handling of the NHS cash crisis, and Lady Amos in the Lords.

PRimage is sure that before he formally moves into Number 10, his in-box must be already filling up with policy demands!

Balanced ticket ? – Brown, Harman to lead Labour

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Reading through this morning’s newspaper coverage, PRimage has gained the impression that much of the media view the Brown/Harman leadership as a balanced ticket, both for the Labour Party and for the country.

What’s your opinion?

Health services a priority for Brown

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team were greatly encouraged that during his first speech as head of the party at the special Labour conference in Manchester on Sunday, Mr Brown said he would make the NHS an “immediate priority”. 

However, we believe that with concern over job losses, private sector involvement and NHS deficits, it will almost certainly be one of the most challenging pledges that he will need to honour when he officially takes over as Prime Minister on Wednesday. While the NHS overall is now back in balance, a significant number of individual trusts remain in debt. PRimage understand that many political pundits predict that Brown will make the NHS a more independent organisation,devolving day-to-day control away from Whitehall.

Send us your views on this.

Go smoke-free on July 1 – Day Lewis Pharmacies can help!

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

With just a few days to go before the July 1 ban on smoking in public places in England is due to come into effect, PRimage client, the Day Lewis Pharmacy Group, has this message to smokers who are planning to stub out their habit : “Let us help you go smoke-free!”

The pharmacists at the162 Day Lewis Pharmacies around the country have already helped thousands quit – and the company is keen to help even more people improve their health and lead a more active lifestyle. Day Lewis hope that by providing this service, they will be helping to reduce the risk of cancer and other smoking related diseases, as well as helping to make England’s air cleaner.

Peter Glover, the Day Lewis Superintendent Pharmacist, comments: “A new survey published by the government shows that eight out of ten people support the introduction of this new law – and we expect that a lot of smokers will now be considering giving up. If so, it’s worth remembering that you are four times more likely to quit using a pharmacy stop smoking service and Nicotine Replacement Therapy than willpower alone.”

Peter adds:“Our Day Lewis pharmacies in your area provide comprehensive, free smoking cessation services and advice to their customers – and our pharmacists are geared up, ready and willing to help anyone who needs friendly, accessible advice and sustained support to ‘quit and win’. So why not pop in to your local Day Lewis branch and have a confidential chat to our pharmacists?  Stopping smoking has major and immediate health benefits for men and women of all ages. These benefits apply to people with and without smoking-related diseases. As a healthcare professional, I can assure you that it really is worth having a go. Good luck!”  

PRimage comment:

PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen is already using nicotine patches to help her quit her 20 cigarettes a day habit – and is finding them very helpful.   And with the smoking ban being implemented in England on Sunday 1 July, she would encourage other smokers who are thinking of quitting to consider NRT products.  From her experience, they  can help you to quit by easing the nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as cravings and mood changes, while you break your smoking habits and learn new ways to cope.



Pharmacy multipes unite to fight crystal meth misuse in the UK

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

PRimage client, The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA), and The Association of Independent Multiples (AIMp), have joined forces to play their part in combatting any potential spread of crystal meth misuse in the UK, and to campaign to keep pseudoephedrine as a Pharmacy-only (P) medicine.

The two bodies, who between them represent nearly 60% of all UK pharmacies, have signed up to a shared package of non-statutory preventative measures, which will further enhance the stringent ‘pharmacy controls’ already in place.

As a specialist healthcare communications consultant, Judy Viitanen is aware that although there is currently no major evidence of the meth problem taking hold in the UK – not least because of our existing stringent pharmacy controls – it is a potential problem issue. This is why it’s important that pharmacy bodies, such as the CCA, act in advance to protect public health while ensuring that consumers continue to have access to very safe and effective remedies.

These preventative measures include sales restrictions for pseudoephedrine and ephedrine products limited to one whole pack per transaction; plus keeping products containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine behind the counter and not available for self-selection, thus reducing any opportunity for theft of quantities that might make home production viable. AIMp and CCA members plan to implement this element voluntarily.

Further measures proposed involve implementing a robust awareness programme for all those involved in the sales of OTC medicines.  AIMp and the CCA are advocating that all staff involved in the sale of OTC medicines should undertake this programme, which will be along the lines of those implemented in other countries. 

Judy Viitanen and the PR image team agree with the AIMp and CCA belief that these preventative measures, if pursued proactively, will protect the public’s health.  We applaud them for this initiative, which we believe demonstrates clearly and unambiguously to Government and regulators that pseudoephedrine is in the safest place in pharmacy’s hands.

Judy Viitanen believes that Parliamentarians and the public should be reassured at the pharmacy multiples commitment to continue to champion this issue, and their determination to protect the public’s interest on all levels.

Primage comment

We’d like to hear your views on this issue. Post a comment with your thoughts and reactions.

Will the Conservative’s prescription for the NHS be ‘good medicine’?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team hope so! We believe that the Tories really stand a good chance to win public and health professionals’ support with their bold plans to scrap all central NHS targets and hand millions of patients “individual budgets” to buy health services. In our view, it appears to tick all the right boxes – and attempts to address core issues within the currently beleagured NHS. We hope that this Tory vision on the health service will reassure the public that the Conservatives are now the party voters most trust on health.

PRimage understand that the ambitious blueprint will also set out plans to put senior doctors in charge of local budgets to ensure that money is spent on the basis of local priorities. This is an excellent idea! And the Tory health team have built in checks and balances by stating that these clinicians – to be known as primary care commissioners – will face pay cuts if they deliver “poor services” to patients. Judy Viitanen believes the Tory pledge to “link the salaries of primary care commissioners to the actual outcomes they deliver for patients and the experiences patients have of the care they receive” is spot-on. It is absolutely right that if they fail to provide acceptable services, their pay will be cut.

The proposals will also extend the patient choice agenda, with people being able to choose to be treated in any hospital – either NHS or private – as long as it delivers care which is at or above health service standards and at or below NHS costs. More information will be revealed today, when Cameron’s excellent shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley, details the plans in their white paper on health: ‘NHS Autonomy and Accountability’. Watch this space for more updates – and do let us know your views and reactions.

PRimage comment:

PRimage has now seen and read the Tory White Paper – and we are even more supportive of their plans for the NHS.  Judy Viitanen believes that patients are the most important focus for all sectors of primary and secondary care in the NHS – and is delighted that the Tories recognize this, by putting their plans and focus on outcomes for patients

It’s also welcome news that Labour’s disastrous obsession with a ‘target driven’ NHS culture is not acceptable to the Tories.

PRimage totally agrees with the comments on the current state of our nation’s health services, made by Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley at today’s launch of the Conservative’s ‘NHS Autonomy and Accountability White Paper.

He said: “For two years, we have urged the Government to bring forward coherent reform. Instead, we’ve got botched re-organisations, chronic management failure, a dysfunctional team at the Department of Health, demoralised NHS staff and patients have paid the price.”

Do you agree with him?

Brown pledges to improve NHS

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Judy Viitanen and PRimage were interested to learn that our ‘premier in waiting’ Gordon Brown pledged to a forum of NHS patients and workers that he would listen to their concerns, and he promised: “We can do things better in the future.”  Speaking at an event in central London organised by health foundation the King’s Fund and Age Concern, Brown said the government should not just “pull levers”. At the beginning of the event, 37% of audience members thought the NHS would improve and 41% felt it would get worse. But by the end of the debate a huge leap saw 67% feeling it would improve and 24% saying it would get worse. “We want an NHS still free at the point of need but it has got to be better,” he said. Mr Brown, who spent much of the afternoon in discussion with people at the event, said he was interested to hear what was being said about hospitals. Most worries appeared not to be about surgical care but issues such as hospital food, cleanliness and MRSA, he added.

PRimage comment

This is the latest of several very high profile pledges and comments on the NHS that Gordon Brown has made in recent weeks.  Judy Viitanen believes it’s simply not enough for him to repeat the mantra that “we have got to listen and learn more…there is no point in having a debate like this if nothing happens from it.”  When he takes over from Bair (and hopefully appoints a new Health Secretary), patients and healthcare professionals will be closely watching and expecting that these pledges will be actioned.

As PRimage has commented in previous NHS blogs, out of hours care  is shambolic – and needs to be sorted out asap.  Judy Viitanen hopes that Mr Brown is sincere in his sentiments that he feels strongly that there needs to be a range of services at a local level that were more accessible to people, particularly out of hours and at weekends, so patients were not forced to go to accident and emergency wards.  And we again remind him to factor community pharmacy into these range of services: they really are ‘the front door to the health service!”

Actions speak louder than words Mr Brown ……..