NHS West Midlands
• Media coverage, October 2009
Prepared for: Helen Jackson, Steve Coneys
Client Service Team: Richard Ingles, Diana Shepherd, Morgan Mahoney and Sophie Hill
• Introduction 3
• Executive Summary 4
• Topline Information 5
• Detailed Analysis 11
• Media and Journalists 18
• Appendix: Methodology 22
• This analysis is based on 1,840 articles, which were supplied to
Precis via Durrants and the West Midlands SHA. Some of the charts
focus only on the regional media, comprising of 1,664 articles.
• The analysis was based on a framework of codes which was set up
with input from the initial COI brief and further discussion with the
Department of Health.
• A four-point favourability scale was used, ranging from Very
Positive to Very Negative.
• Coverage was analysed according to Precis’ Media Influence Index,
which assigns an impact score of between one and 100 to each
item, based on various factors such as audience, size and
prominence. A detailed explanation is included in the Appendix
• Article count in October decreased, falling from 1,890 to
1,840 articles. The total reach declined from 54.5m to
37.7m. The level of positive and very positive impact rose
to 75.9% after a month at 63.8%. Only two articles
contained very negative comments, which was in
connection with Stafford General.
• South Staffordshire continued to lead within PCT
coverage, and its proportion of criticism was down on last
month (38% compared to 53% in September). Positive
news included the announcement of extended visiting
hours at Staffordshire General Hospital, which have been
“welcomed by campaigners who want to see greater
access for relatives outside of normal visiting hours”
(Express & Star – various editions).
• Dudley was again prominent this month and discussion
was more positive than negative. A series of free
workshops for parents of children with learning difficulties
in Dudley and a new therapy service to help patients
suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder helped to
boost upbeat comment (Kidderminster Express &
Detailed analysis: issues
• Corporate issues remained ahead in October, despite a
further decrease in article count (979 this month down
from 1,017 in September and 1,055 in August). There
was less Service coverage compared with Corporate, and
similarly volumes were down month-on-month (797 this
month and 861 in September).
• The leading topic for Service delivery was Facilities,
buildings, which was predominantly favourable in tone,
fuelled by news that “a unique child-friendly area has
been unveiled at Nuneaton’s George Eliot Hospital”
(Heartland Evening News - Nuneaton).
• Strategy/planning led within Corporate coverage, and plans for
an £11 million health centre, “which promises to transform
NHS care” (The Sentinel – Stoke-on-Trent) contributed to
• Caring organisation was the most prominent message, and
there were positive message mentions in 67% of the coverage.
Stories contributing to Caring Organisation included promising
actual incident figures at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital:
“Numbers are believed to be low and 80.4% of those which
occurred resulted in no harm, a far better percentage than the
national average for all acute hospitals” (Shropshire Star –
• Providers continued to dominate within internal comment in
October, and experienced a significant increase in their share
of voice (67.9% up from 53.8% in September). Political figures
dominated amongst external stakeholders and negative impact
outweighed positive. Dudley North MP Ian Austin spoke out
about substandard cleanliness at the Dudley Group of
Hospitals: “It’s really important that issues like these are dealt
with so that every patient gets the very best treatment
available” (Kidderminster Express & Star).
• The Express & Star series was again the key media, and the
First edition had the highest volume with 107 articles. The
Shrophire Star (Last Edition) published the greatest amount
of criticism, with 34 of its 74 items containing negative
• Alison Dayani was the leading journalist in October, writing in
the Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post, Birmingham
Sunday Mercury and Black Country Mail.
Key performance indicators
The favourability index shows the balance
of positive and negative impact. A figure
above the zero line means positive impact
outweighs negative, while a figure below
the zero line means there is more negative
than positive impact.
All coverage Regional media only
Number of articles 1,840 1,664
Total reach (gross, includes national &
Percentage by tone
Very positive 0.3% 0.3%
Positive 73.3% 75.6%
Negative 26.0% 24.0%
Very negative 0.4% 0.1%
% with message (positive) 67%
Leading issue Strategy, planning
Leading publication by volume Express & Star - First
What was the profile of NHS West Midlands?
The NHS in the West Midlands was mentioned in
1,664 regional media items in October (down from
1,723 in September). The level of positive and very
positive impact rose to 75.9% after a month at
Impact levels within regional media remained
stable month-on-month. Very negative and
negative coverage in all media decreased to their
lowest levels since February.
How did the various PCTs and Trusts perform in the media?
South Staffordshire headed PCT coverage and commentary included a wide range of stories. News of extended
visiting hours at Staffordshire General Hospital, and particularly initiations for relatives to visit patients during
mealtimes, have been “welcomed by campaigners who want to see greater access for relatives outside of normal
visiting hours” (Express & Star – various editions). Meanwhile, the release of Peter Garland’s “secret report” into
the conduct of Martin Yeates under the Freedom of Information Act fuelled criticism for the PCT as talk of the
scandals resurfaced (Express & Star – various editions).
Dudley was also prominent this month and discussion was more positive than negative. A series of free
workshops for parents of children with learning difficulties in Dudley and a new therapy service to help patients
suffering from Borderline Personality Disorder helped to boost upbeat comment (Kidderminster Express &
Star). However, poor ratings from the Quality Care Commission on a number of different areas increased
negative reporting for the PCT (Halesowen Chronicle, among others).
How did the various organisations perform in the media?
•“A cookery demonstration for women undergoing breast cancer
treatment is part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Ladan
Hajihassani, Worcestershire Royal Hospital’s dietician, will also be
present to answer specific questions on nutrition” (Worcester
•“University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust …
received good ratings for both quality of services and quality of
financial managing [from the Care Quality Commission]”
•“Poorly people can simply walk into a flagship GP health centre
to see a doctor even if they are registered to another surgery.
That is one of the benefits of the brand new Camp Hill Healthcare
Centre in Nuneaton” (Heartland Evening News - Nuneaton).
•“Results of a national survey of people’s experiences revealed
that patients across South Staffordshire and Shropshire were
generally satisfied with the South Staffordshire and Shropshire
Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust” (Uttoxeter Advertiser).
•“A secret report obtained by the Express & Star … sheds new
light on the scandal at Stafford Hospital and the role of former
hospital boss Martin Yeates” (Express & Star – print and online).
•“The University Hospital of North Staffordshire £40 million
maternity complex was singled out for praise at the Labour Party
conference in Brighton. Speaking in front of Prime Minister Gordon
Brown, Stoke-on-Trent city councillor Mark Davis described the
maternity centre as ‘magnificent’” (Leek & Post Times).
How did the various organisations perform in the media?
•“Kindhearted staff from The Dudley Group of Hospitals have been rewarded for going the extra mile and making a real
difference to patient care. More than 210 workers from the Trust attended the celebratory Committed to Excellence event at
The Copthorne Hotel, which was hosted by comedian and practicing GP Dr Phil Hammond” (Dudley News).
•“The Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS FT was deemed to be among the worst in the country. It was rated weak for its overall
quality of services to patients after failing to meet targets for waiting times by NHS regulator the Care Quality Commission”
(Express & Star – various editions).
•“The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust deserves credit for maintaining its excellent rating, as does Sandwell and West
Birmingham, which is described as good [by the Care Quality Commission]” (Express & Star – various editions).
What did the coverage focus on?
Corporate issues dominated again in October, despite a further decrease in article count (979 this month down
from 1,017 in September and 1,055 in August). There was less Service coverage compared with Corporate, and
similarly volumes were down month-on-month (797 this month and 861 in September).
Coverage of Corporate issues was largely favourable, as 66.8% of impact was positive or very positive, and for
Service delivery this was 62.4%.
More detail on Service and Corporate topics is available on the next two pages.
What did the articles talk about?
“There were 129 on-the-day operation cancellations in the first
quarter of 2009-2010 at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation
Trust - more than double those for the same period in 2005-
2006” (Staffordshire Newsletter - Stafford).
“A unique child-friendly area has
been unveiled at Nuneaton’s
George Eliot Hospital. TV’s John
Craven did the honours yesterday,
cutting the ribbon on the facility
which will ensure young patients
are separated from their adult
Evening News - Nuneaton).
“Gordon Brown and David Cameron united to praise
the care provided to British troops at Selly Oak
Hospital in Birmingham … [Gordon Brown] praised the
remarkable treatment at Selly Oak … and at Headley
Court in Surrey, which provides rehabilitative care,
such as physiotherapy” (Birmingham Mail).
What did the articles talk about?
“More than 300 people packed a meeting to voice their anger at moves
which could lead to a downgrading of Telford’s Princess Royal Hospital with
key services moved to Shrewsbury” (Shropshire Star – Last Edition).
“Warwick Hospital chiefs say they are well
on course to clear their once crippling
debts” (Leamington Spa Observer).
“Plans for an £11 million health centre which
promises to transform NHS care in a
community have been unveiled … If
approved, the centre will bring seven GP
practices together and a range of health
services, including physiotherapy and district
nursing” (The Sentinel – Stoke-on-Trent).
Which messages came through for NHS West Midlands?
“Sick youngsters could be sent from
Birmingham to Leicester for treatment because
the city’s Children’s Hospital is struggling to
cope with a lack of beds” (Birmingham Mail).
“Although actual incident figures were
not available from the Shrewsbury and
Telford Hospital Trust … numbers are
believed to be low and 80.4% of those
which occurred resulted in no harm, a
far better percentage than the national
average for all acute hospitals”
(Shropshire Star – Last Edition).
“Twenty nursing officials at the University Hospital of North
Staffordshire wore purple uniforms … so they could stand out
to patients. They will repeat the colourful spectacle every
Friday as part of an initiative for the bosses to keep an eye on
things at ward level … the distinctive uniforms were added
yesterday so patients can easily pick them out if they need to
raise any grievances” (The Sentinel – Stoke-on-Trent).
How influential were the SHA’s representatives?
Providers remained prominent within internal comment in
October, and experienced a significant increase in their
share of voice (67.9% up from 53.8% in September).
PCTs saw a considerable drop in their share, falling from
41.9% to 24.8%. The leading group continued to be
Managers, as those from Trusts/Hospitals had 56.5% of
impact while the PCTs had 24.2%.
Political figures dominated amongst external
stakeholders, as Patients, members of public rose from
third to second place.
And which were the most favourable?
Positive comment from Providers included
Dr Sam Ramaiah, Director of Public Health
for NHS Walsall who praised the
acknowledgement of progress made by
NHS staff working on the Fun4Life
initiative: “Childhood obesity is a major
public health problem with one-in-four
children being obese or overweight.
Fun4Life is a proven programme to tackle
obesity and I am delighted colleagues from
Walsall have won the award” (Express &
Star - Sandwell).
Elsewhere, boosting positive impact for
PCTs, Laurence Tressier, NHS Coventry’s
Deputy Head of medicines management,
commented on the success of the Got a
Cough campaign: “We’re delighted all 84
pharmacies in the city took part in this
campaign, resulting in many patients
getting earlier diagnosis and treatment”
Commentary from Political figures was
more negative than positive. Dudley North
MP Ian Austin approached the Chief
Executive of the Dudley Group of Hospitals
following official reports of sub-standard
clenliness. He explained: “It’s really
important that issues like these are dealt
with so that every patient gets the very
best treatment available and we have to
take it very seriously when standards slip”
(Kidderminster Express & Star).
Which media gave the most attention to NHS West Midlands?
“There are more than 60 vacancies for cleaners at Dudley’s Russells Hall Hospital,
union officials have claimed. They called for the positions to be filled as a matter
of urgency in the wake of a report which condemned hygiene standards”.
“A walk-in health clinic is to open in
Hereford in December to serve
patients seven days a week, with the
opening hours aimed at workers”.
“Toddlers have enjoyed a special visit
from paramedics as part of a lesson on
who takes care of them in times of
need. Representatives from West
Midlands Ambulance Service went to
see youngsters and their parents at the
Little Monkeys parents and toddlers
group .... Children got to wear mock
bandages, sit in an ambulance, and
learn about flashing lights and sirens”.
And which journalists should the organisation be talking to?
“Pupils from a Birmingham school
are … picking acorns from hospital
grounds and germinating their own
trees … at the Royal Orthopaedic
Hospital, in Northfield, to the delight
of doctors and nurses”
“NHS managers planning to downgrade maternity services in Solihull
have been told they must rethink after failing to factor in the
borough’s population growth in coming years” (Birmingham Post).
“The Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS FT was
deemed to be among the worst in the country. It
was rated weak for its overall quality of services to
patients after failing to meet targets for waiting
times by NHS regulator the Care Quality
Commission” (Express & Star – various editions).
How did individual journalists describe the NHS West
“South Warwickshire General Hospitals looks set to become the first NHS trust in
Coventry and Warwickshire to win the coveted FT status. This will give the trust …
more control to tailor its services to local patients’ needs and a board of elected
governors who will hold hospital chiefs to account” (Coventry Telegraph).
“A new £1.8 million mobile intensive care service
to move desperately-ill children if a critical care
bed is not available has been launched … to help
save more young lives … It has been made
possible by £1.8 million funding from PCTs across
the West Midlands” (Birmingham Mail).
“Eye treatment in Birmingham has picked up
a national excellence award for exceptional
care of patients with a devastating illness
that causes blindness” (Birmingham Mail).
• The system used for this analysis uses a composite impact measure, termed the "Media Influence Index". A description of this measure is provided below.
THE MEDIA INFLUENCE INDEX
• Precis is a computerised method of evaluating the impact of coverage of selected material on a given target audience. This material may relate to competitors, competitors'
products, key messages, market issues or any other topic of interest. The Media Influence Index is a sophisticated, comprehensive measure which encompasses all the
factors which contribute to the likelihood of the target audience assimilating coverage analysed.
• Using information from articles fed into the system, it is possible to produce reports showing the physical impact of the material on the selected target. This is done by using
an algorithm which produces an impact measure based on a variety of factors which have a role to play in determining impact. These are as follows:
• The circulation of each publication
• an article in a high-circulation title will have more impact than one in a smaller title
• Percentage of the page occupied by the article
• a large article will have more impact than a small article
• Percentage of the page occupied by a photograph
• an article with a photograph will have a higher impact score than one without
• The columnar spread of the article
• an article with a large headline will have a higher impact than one with a smaller headline
• The position of the article on the page
• an article in the upper-right of the page is more likely to be read than an article elsewhere
• The location of the page (front, back, etc.)
• a front or back-page article will have a higher impact than an article within a publication
• Each cutting is attributed an impact value of between 1 and 100, based on the above parameters, thereby providing a composite measure of impact. For each period, these
individual impact scores are cumulated, thereby giving an effective measure of the overall amount of “noise” on the issues, products or companies analysed during the
period. Week-by-week comparisons then permit trends to be identified.
THE FAVOURABILITY INDEX
• Data can also be displayed in a simpler way by netting out the amount of positive and negative impact achieved by each organisation which is being tracked. Positive
impact is multiplied by 5 and negative by -5, then they are added together. If positive impact outweighs negative, the overall favourability index will be above zero, and if
negative impact is dominant, the overall favourability index will be less than zero.