The NHS turns 70 this summer – and here, Jo Bland, head of internal communications and engagement for NHS Digital, encourages all organisations across all sectors to join in the celebrations.

31st May 2018

NHS70 gives leadership teams an opportunity to have face-to-face conversations about wellbeing and take stock of your related corporate ambitions, whether they’re focused on the NHS or not. 


On 5 July 2018, the NHS marks its 70th birthday. NHS communication professionals will use this anniversary to showcase the work of NHS care givers – proudly celebrating, acknowledging and recognising what they do and saying a big, heartfelt thank you to staff.

But any communicator, in any business, can get involved and use NHS70 as a springboard to start discussions and engage employees.

Everyone’s invited to the party 

Whatever sector you are in, it’s likely that most of your people have received care from the NHS. You may have colleagues who are or were clinicians or your products or services may be used by care givers. 

Celebrating with the NHS could be part of your corporate social responsibility activity or you could tie the occasion into your health and care strategy.

Maybe you could encourage staff or volunteers to donate blood or join the organ donor register, or you can ask them about their personal reflections of the NHS and how it’s made a difference to them. Perhaps a look into your archives might reveal some interesting connections.

Tea time: Jo Bland prepares for the NHS’s Big 7Tea party

Be proud, passionate and thankful

NHS70 is an opportunity for IC professionals to show staff and volunteers how proud we are of our everyday heroes, celebrate their passion, and thank them for their tremendous contribution. Combined, these elements instil a sense of value within the workplace.

As every internal communicator knows, what happens inside is reflected outside. Sharing your commitment to the NHS70 milestone with your external stakeholders adds to your employee value proposition and your commitment to your customers – make it an inside/outside campaign.

Leverage your leadership

NHS70 gives leadership teams a ready-made opportunity to have positive and inspiring face-to-face in-house conversations about employee wellbeing, and to take stock of your related corporate aspirations and ambitions, whether they’re focused on the NHS or not.

It’s also a brilliant time for your leaders to say thank you to people across the organisation and reinforce your commitments to some of the areas you, as internal communicators, want to focus on, such as those weak spots in your staff survey that need a boost.

Recognise and reward 

Could the recognition aspect of NHS70 inspire you to put in place a similar scheme in your organisation, if you don’t already have one?

Build it from the bottom up to actively engage people. A staff nomination approach encourages people to focus on what good looks like, involves everyone in the process of celebrating positive actions, and generates a sense of positivity.

The reward doesn’t need to be tremendous; the action of nominating and finding out that you’re a nominee is great, and having that on your personal review is a positive.

Celebrating your internal stars doesn’t have to be burdensome or lavish for tight internal communications budgets. It brings its own rewards.

Inspiration can be low cost – or no cost

Look at the Supporting NHS70 materials and branding, and speak to NHS England to see if you can use these for your internal communications.

Use quick and easy, accessible, high-impact tactics that work across internal and external channels. Keep campaigns fresh by holding competitions, making your own GIFs, using photographs, audio recordings, British Sign Language videos and broadcasts, as well as leadership soundbites with pledges for action.

Some NHS organisations are asking people to bring in their own special vintage teacup as part of Big 7Tea parties. You could do the same, but give it your own twist, picking up on your corporate improvement objectives or tying your staff recognition celebrations into the day itself. 

Full details about the upcoming external events for NHS70 are available at england.nhs.uk/NHS70

NHS70 gives leadership teams an opportunity to have face-to-face conversations about wellbeing and take stock of your related corporate ambitions, whether they’re focused on the NHS or not. 


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