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WA awarded prestigious Consultancy of the Year
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Archive for the ‘WA Health’ Category

Novo Nordisk chooses WA Communications for diabetes brief

WA Communications’ growing health team has been chosen by leading diabetes company Novo Nordisk to drive government affairs in their diabetes business, making the first half of 2020 WA Health’s most successful period to date.

WA Health won a competitive pitch to secure the retained account with Novo Nordisk, supporting the company with their innovative type 2 diabetes portfolio. Head of Health Caroline Gordon will lead the account alongside Associate Director Dean Sowman, working to Dan Beety, Director of Corporate Affairs at Novo Nordisk.

Dan Beety of Novo Nordisk said:

‘‘We put in place a rigorous selection process and were impressed by Caroline and her team. WA’s insight, commitment and enthusiasm shone through. Their approach brought creative ideas that showed a deep understanding of what we’re trying to achieve.”

The wins cap off a strong first half of 2020 for WA’s health team, who also recently won a five way competitive pitch to work with Sanofi’s rare disease franchise.

Earlier this month, WA Communications also won the coveted CIPR Consultancy of the Year award.

To talk to Caroline about your business needs, please get in touch via carolinegordon@wacomms.co.uk.

 

 

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After COVID-19, what next for cancer services?

Thousands of cancer patients are missing. Many patients are having appointments delayed or cancelled, others simply aren’t seeking help. There is growing unease over the implications.

And so the direction from the centre is clear – getting cancer services back up to pre-pandemic levels is a top priority for the health service.

How this will be achieved remains to be seen, with many remaining unknowns around how, when and which services and standards will be brought back.

As the health system starts to piece together a path towards the new normal, we provide a recap of the key decisions made during the pandemic and some of the remaining questions that will be playing on the minds of those tasked with delivering the cancer recovery.

A pause on the 28-day faster diagnosis standard (FDS)

Due to be rolled out fully from April 1st, NHS England and Improvement cancer leads confirmed that implementation of the FDS would be put on hold indefinitely. While providers have been asked to continue sending data, they will not be expected to meet the 75% threshold and no data will be published until at least July.

Cancer providers will be anxious for further guidance over expectations when the NHS formally enters the “recovery” phase. With the need to maintain surge capacity alongside an anticipated backlog of pent-up demand for cancer services, there will be tough decisions to be made over how much leeway can be allowed for services that will undoubtedly continue to be stretched thin over the foreseeable future.

Maintaining impetus on early cancer diagnosis in primary care

The re-worked primary care network (PCN) contract for 2020/21 pushed back the start date for the Early Cancer Diagnosis service specification from 1 April to 1 October, while urging PCNs to “make every possible effort” to begin work earlier if possible.

This plaintive request from the centre was no doubt made against concern over the impact of the suspension of all cancer screening programmes. Together with screening, the service specification is integral for achieving the Long-Term Plan ambition to diagnose most cancers at an early stage.

It includes considerable administrative asks of PCNs, including a rigorous review of their referral practice and targeted action to improve the uptake of cancer screening services. Whether this can feasibly be done amidst the current situation remains to be seen. With no further signals on the resumption of the cancer screening programmes, much depends on PCNs’ ability to drive progress on this front.

Accelerating the roll-out of Rapid Diagnostic Centres (RDCs)

Many RDCs across the country have continued to operate during the pandemic, and NHS England has recognised their potential to support the COVID-19 response with guaranteed funding flows as required. The pandemic has accelerated the introductions of innovative approaches to manage referrals to RDCs and avoid hospital attendances, which may well continue well beyond the current crisis. At the same time however the submission of RDC management information has been paused, as has the planned national RDC evaluation exercise.

As services begin the task of bringing referral and diagnostic activity back to pre-pandemic levels, the expectations of RDCs will be high – the challenge will be to ensure that their learnings and good practice can be shared effectively across the system.

Continuing uncertainty over shielding

Little has been said officially over whether individuals who have been advised to shield during the pandemic, many of whom are cancer patients, will be asked to continue isolating in the coming weeks and months. Reports of recent communication by text message with those on the shielding list has indicated that some individuals are being removed from the list, although nothing has been announced on the rationale behind this decision or which groups will be affected.

Cancer Alliances have reported significant falls in 2WW referrals for suspected cancer, with anecdotal reports of some patients refusing to attend for fear of infection. Any continued ambiguity in the official advice will only exacerbate the concerns of vulnerable patients and will need careful management in order to ensure that cancer patients are receiving appropriate treatment and support.

Responding to the pandemic required rapid changes to cancer services and the necessary suspension of initiatives that were just gathering momentum before the crisis hit. What’s clear is that the task of piecing cancer services back up to pre-pandemic levels is just as complex, and there is a lot of remaining uncertainty as to where and how priorities should lie.

 

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WA promotions as WA Health expands the team

WA Health continues to grow as it welcomes Account Manager Ben Latimer to the team.

His hire comes off the back of several recent high-profile health client wins for WA Health, including the Sanofi Genzyme’s UK rare diseases brief and work with Senzer, an innovative UK-based pharmaceutical company manufacturing respiratory devices.

Ben joins WA from another consultancy where he worked with leading global pharmaceutical brands on high level market access issues and across several portfolios including immuno-oncology, cardiovascular disease and osteoperosis. He also specialised in joint working groups between industry and patient groups, and worked with independent healthcare providers to develop best practise in patient-centred care for NHS services.

Caroline Gordon, Director of WA Health said: “It’s an absolute pleasure to have Ben join our growing team. He will be a great addition across a number of our health accounts, bringing his strong and diverse healthcare experience to the table.”

Ben Latimer added: “WA’s reputation has grown in the sector as they’ve delivered outstanding work for clients and continued to win interesting and large briefs. I’m excited to work with Caroline and be part of this this independent agency which clearly takes great pride in the work they do.”

WA has also promoted three of its Senior Account Executives to Account Managers this month across its Public Affairs and Investor Services teams.

Caitlin Fordham, Cameron Wall and Lizzy Cryar have all been promoted in recognition of the effective work and timely advice they consistently deliver for their clients.

Dominic Church, WA’s Managing Director congratulated all three on their promotions: “Despite the extraordinary circumstances we currently find ourselves in, we still believe it is essential to recognise and thank staff for outstanding performance. Lizzy, Caitlin and Cameron are all integral parts of their client teams and I am really delighted to announce their well-deserved promotions”.

 

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Mental Health MPs’ top priority according to new poll for WA

Research from WA Communications on the health priorities of the new parliament has found that 62 per cent of MPs see mental health as the top priority for health spending over the next five years.

The research, informed by a cross-party YouGov poll of 100 parliamentarians, finds that more MPs selected mental health spending as a top three priority than any other condition, coming ahead of cancer care (selected by 35 per cent), cardiovascular (14 per cent) and diabetes (8 per cent).

The findings reflect the political prominence of mental health over the past few years with all major parties placing it core to their health plans. Yet a significant gap between the parties exists, with 80% of Labour MPs placing it as their top priority, in contrast to 47% of Conservative MPs.

Cancer care, traditionally a key political health issue, falls behind mental health overall, but is still viewed by more than a third of MPs as one of the top three priority areas for NHS funding. Conservative MPs identified cancer care as the area they would most like to see money spent on, with almost half (46%) selecting this.

This is despite Conservative Party plans to broaden the scope of the Cancer Drugs Fund into an Innovative Medicines Fund to support other areas such as autoimmune and rare diseases.

Prevention agenda

Matt Hancock’s ambition of an NHS shifting the NHS’s resources from treatment to prevention also appears to be backed by parliamentarians. 69 per cent of MPs believe the NHS should “direct more resources towards prevention, rather than increasing funding for new treatments.” This is 5% higher than when this question was asked a year previously, suggesting growing support for the prevention agenda.

Medicines access

MPs also believe that patients in the UK get good access to the medicines that can treat them best.

More than two thirds (67%) of MPs agreed with this statement, particularly Conservative MPs, with 79% stating this is the case. And just 25% of MPs believe improving the availability of new medicines on the NHS is a top funding priority.

This is despite a steady drumbeat of medicines access issues being raised throughout the last parliament, such as that of Orkambi.

Labour’s high-profile General Election focus on medicines pricing and life sciences companies being part of Brexit trade talks isn’t reflected by the Parliamentary Labour Party, with more than half (52%) of Labour MPs stating that patients get good access to medicines.

 

To discuss the wider findings and what they mean for your business in more detail, please contact Caroline Gordon, WA’s Director and Head of Health, at carolinegordon@wacomms.co.uk.

 

The polling was conducted by YouGov between 8th and 23rd January 2020. 101 MPs were polled, including 40 from the Conservative Party and 40 from the Labour Party.

 

 

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Bayer appoints WA Health to lead government affairs for cardiovascular disease

WA Health, the specialist health practice of WA Communications, has been appointed by Bayer to lead the government affairs brief for their blockbuster cardiovascular brand.

WA was brought in following a competitive pitch and will focus on supporting market access preparations for their expansion into coronary or peripheral arterial disease (CAD / PAD) as well as Bayer’s traditional stronghold in anticoagulation for stroke prevention.

The account is being led by WA Health’s director Caroline Gordon, who joined the company last summer from Incisive Health, reporting to Bayer’s Government and Industry Affairs Manager, Andrew Brown.

Andrew Brown, Bayer’s Government and Industry Affairs Manager said:‘We’re very happy to be working with the team at WA on our cardiovascular disease government affairs brief. WA’s ideas really stood out to us during the pitch process and we’re excited to be working with them during this critical phase. We’re confident it’s going to be a strong partnership.’

Caroline Gordon, Director at WA said: ‘This is a flagship win for WA Health and exactly the kind of work we thrive on. We’re delighted to add Bayer to our growing client list. It’s been a really strong few months for the WA team across our specialisms in health and wellbeing and we’re all hugely looking forward to building on this success in 2019.’

This win comes off the back of a successful period for WA Health, having recently secured projects across Sanofi’s oncology portfolio, corporate communications for Takeda and retained work supporting the UK launch of Camurus’ opioid replacement therapy treatment.

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A year in WA Health

It’s a year since I joined WA’s Health Team – and I’m a firm believer of using anniversaries to look back and take stock. I joined as an account executive into what was a fairly new, but clearly ambitious health team. It was a daunting but exciting move.

Every company sells itself as a great company to work at. ‘Growing’. ‘Ambitious’. ‘Fun’. The usual selling points. For some companies, this is either wishful thinking or shrewd marketing.

It can be difficult in interviews to get the true sense of a workplace. All the same, I felt confident when I started working at WA that I had made the right choice and found a workplace where I could not only develop professionally – but also enjoy doing so.

And so, a year in, I can comfortably and confidently say that the gut instinct was right.

WA has a knack for attracting talented people who get along well and can work hard together but also genuinely enjoy going for drinks at the end of the week.

My background isn’t in healthcare. I’m a politics geek at heart. And the last year has pushed me to learn a huge amount. But working in this fast-paced environment has fast-tracked my learning and experiences.

I look back and can tick off my key ask of this job, which was to work on genuinely interesting and intellectually stimulating work every day; writing insightful reports and patient booklets, holding exacting but ultimately rewarding roundtables and events both in our office and in parliament, and advising them on strategic challenges. Just this week we supported a parliamentary event where Parliamentarians had their faces scanned to see skin damage.

Winning pitches and being nominated for awards have been particular highlights for me as well – and are the start of a trend I think we’re definitely going to continue.

Its genuinely impressive to watch how quickly my colleagues can get up to speed – and help me to as well – with the terminology and details of incredibly complex challenges. It’s always been important for me to be in a job where I can develop my knowledge and expertise – and though it sounds cliché I really do feel lucky to be in a position to learn so much from my colleagues every day.

I’m looking forward to the start of my second year at WA, and taking into consideration how the team has developed since I joined –  I’m confident that it’ll be even better than the first.

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