EXCLUSIVE: It’s already hiring time at Cornwall’s ACO

EXCLUSIVE: It’s already hiring time at Cornwall’s ACO

EXCLUSIVE: It’s already hiring time at Cornwall’s ACO – and it has nothing to do with health

1st January 2018

By Graham Smith

Cornwall’s Accountable Care Organisation, due to take over from the National Health Service, west of the River Tamar, on 1st April, is already advertising for its first doctor.  Applicants should be expert in spin, rather than medicine.

The £56,665 – £69,168 per year job stems from concern that Cornwall Council and its local NHS partners are losing the battle for hearts and minds and that patients – and voters – are becoming increasingly worried at the absence of any public consultation.  Instead of changing the message, officials are simply hiring another messenger.

The council, the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, NHS Kernow, the Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust and NHS England between them already employ a small army of press officers but senior officials fear the “right message” is failing to penetrate.

The new post will be based at County Hall, Truro, and is for a fixed term contract running until 31st March 2019.  Although the employer is advertised as the Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the job description says the “Shaping Our Future Head of Communications” will report to the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) leadership team.

The STP currently has no statutory basis but is due to become a “shadow” Accountable Care System (ACS) on 1stApril.  Internal NHS and Cornwall Council documents refer to the ACS as an Accountable Care Organisation, meaning it would be governed by the contractual responsibilities outlined in NHS England guidance.  This “guidance” opens the door to much greater privatisation of the NHS, for minimum contracts of 10 years.


Would even Malcolm Tucker think twice before applying for this job?  Photo: BBC


The job description says the spin doctor has “an exciting opportunity” to play a “pivotal role within the senior leadership team.”

It continues, saying the head of communications will be “working with clinicians, staff, patients and a wide range of stakeholders.

“The post holder will be responsible developing and leading a whole system communications and engagement strategy coupled with plan for delivery and operating model. This will include:

  • Development and use of a very clear and understandable narrative that is both realistic about pressures and speaks to public/clinical aspirations for the health and care system
  • Systematic planned approach to staff and clinical communication and engagement reaching out to staff across all organisations within the partnership, utilising all existing channels and communication opportunities as appropriate
  • A proactive approach to building a group of leaders across the system that understand and support change
  • Ensuring all key target audiences are made aware of progress towards local priorities by telling the stories/journeys of those involved, with creative use of all communications channels including social media
  • “The successful candidate will report to the Shaping Our Future Senior Responsible Officer for Communications and Engagement, who is also the Chief Officer of Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). The post holder will also be expected to work closely with the Shaping Our Future Programme Director and other senior members of the STP leadership team.

“This role will work in close collaboration with the Shaping Our Future Head of Stakeholder Relations and Engagement. Together these roles are supported by a virtual, system-wide team of communications leads and their staff, along with a Shaping Our Future communications officer and members of the SoF Programme Management Office (PMO).”

Applications close on Friday 12th January.

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