Award Winner 2020: Best Campaign in Wales
Lodestone - Fighting for Wales: Keeping Healthcare Accessible
The 2020 PRCA Public Affairs Awards celebrated the best work of the year and below is the category's winning entry.
In May 2019, the Countess of Chester NHS Hospital Trust took the difficult decision to stop admitting Welsh patients for elective work. This decision was taken in the backdrop of an ongoing funding dispute between the Countess and the Welsh Government. With a view to maximising healthcare accessibility for Welsh patients while also securing a fair funding package for the Countess, Lodestone worked as a go-between with the Welsh Government and UK Government to resolve the dispute and ensure the resumption of local healthcare services for thousands of Welsh residents.
Following a difficult dispute over payments for caring for patients from Wales, the Countess of Chester Hospital Trust took the decision to stop providing all but essential emergency and maternity care to Welsh patients. This meant that, in the absence of a fair funding package for the Countess, upwards of 23,500 Welsh patients would be faced with the prospect of long-term reduced accessibility to healthcare services. For many, this would mean travelling further and at greater financial cost to reach a hospital for elective treatment and care. With a view to supporting thousands of Welsh residents who typically received care at the Countess, Lodestone developed a targeted and deliberate communications campaign aimed at key Government stakeholders in both the Welsh and UK Governments. The campaign emphasised the importance of reaching a fair funding settlement to allow the Countess to reopen to all north east Wales residents, thus restoring the status quo and these residents’ access to local healthcare services. Lodestone leveraged its network of key political contacts to help deliver maximum impact for the client, the Countess of Chester. This included engaging with the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, who intervened personally to ensure a tariff settlement was reached at a national level that enabled the situation to return to normal. Lodestone also worked closely with Minister for Economy, Transport and North Wales in the Welsh Government, Ken Skates AM and Labour’s Mark Tami MP who represents the constituency of Alyn and Deeside in Wales to fix the issue.
Through leveraging its network and lobbying key stakeholders, Lodestone was able to effect a policy change that restored easy access to the Countess’ healthcare services for thousands of Welsh residents. This included a comprehensive funding package agreed between the Welsh and UK Governments, ensuring that Welsh residents in Flintshire could once again access the Countess of Chester Hospital’s healthcare service. Commenting on the outcome, then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Nicola Blackwood (former) MP said: “We will provide the necessary funding for this year so that normal services can resume for local residents with the Welsh Government committing to cover the costs in future years. We sympathise with anyone who was inconvenienced or adversely affected and I’m pleased this is now resolved.”