NHS organisations are subject to continual media enquiries, almost on a daily basis. Rarely a day goes by in the UK without a story hitting the media about either the wider NHS or individual organisations. It is therefore essential for each organisation to have a policy in place for responding to media enquiries, not only to ensure the reputation of the NHS and individual organisations are upheld but also to safeguard patients and staff.
Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust recognises that effective media relations are essential for public sector organisations which are publicly funded and therefore rightly the subject of considerable media scrutiny. Not only do we have a duty to be publicly accountable, honest and transparent; we have other responsibilities which are better discharged if a productive and professional working relationship with the media exists. These include: providing accurate information about our services, dealing with major incidents and providing important advice to patients and the wider community – for instance, in the event of a pandemic, significant outbreak of communicable disease in the community or within our premises.
By media this policy refers to the printed press, broadcast (radio, TV and film), online and news agencies. Enquiries may be from local, regional and national media (and in the event of a major incident possibly by international media).
This policy describes the Trust’s approach to handling media enquiries. Although media enquiries should always be handled by the Communications Team, this policy is relevant to ALL STAFF.
Trust policy is to try to be as co-operative with the Press/Media as possible, without compromising patient or staff confidentiality. We have an absolute duty of care to our patients to observe and maintain patient confidentiality in line with the NHS Caldicott Guidelines as set out in our Confidentiality and Data Protection Policy. Permission should always be sought from the patient, or their relative if the consent cannot be obtained because of incapacity or they are a young person unable to consent, or from the next of kin if the patient has died, before patient details are disclosed.
However, in cases where the patient or their next of kin have made contact with the media guidance from the Department of Health (Annex A) provides for the Trust to disclose such patient details to enable the Trust to protect its reputation.
|Compiled by:||Communications Team|
|Date Ratified:||September 2020|
|Date Issued:||September 2020|
|Review Date:||September 2023|
|Target Audience:||All staff|
|Contact name:||Anna Scott, Joint Head of Communications|
- Complaints Procedure
- Confidentiality and Data Protection Policy
- Freedom of Information Policy
- Major Incident Plan
- Incident Reporting Policy