Archive for April, 2022

Bill Watch: The Health and Care Bill becomes law

Posted on: April 27th, 2022 by Tomas White

And just like that it passed, hurried through the final stages of its 10-month legislative journey along with a range of other laws the Government wanted to clear from its books before the next Queen’s Speech. With final details related to NHS supply chain slavery and reconfiguration of services ironed out, the Health and Care Bill, the Government’s set-piece reform of the health system in England, becomes the Health and Care Act. Its passing cements a whole host of changes to the way healthcare is organised and delivered, from who gets to take part in local healthcare decisions to fluoridation of water supplies.

The entire process, bar a few parliamentary scuffles and an anti-privatisation social media campaign, has passed without much fanfare – certainly in comparison to Lansley reforms of a decade ago.  This was down, in large part, to NHS stakeholders which have long been primed and bought into the main change that this Act delivers – one of greater integration of healthcare-delivering services in large geographical footprints known as Integrated Care Systems (ICSs). The seeds were planted for this shift as far back as 2019’s Long Term Plan, if not before, and many providers have already set up their ICSs. This Act puts a legislative ‘rubber seal’ on all this. Just how successful they are in driving efficiencies and crucially, improving population health outcomes, remains to be seen.

In the final frantic week of legislative horse-trading known as ‘ping pong’, the Government quietly backed down from its ‘power grab’ which would have handed over greater controls of local NHS decision making to the Secretary of State, a move opposed by the likes of the NHS Confederation. As this was a move which Matt Hancock was a proponent of, his successor Sajid Javid, who was thought to be lukewarm on it, was happy to concede.

NHS workforce planning – a hot topic which is never far from the health (and national) pages – proved a sticking point, with MPs and peers wanting greater rigour in how workforce levels are reported and communicated. Has the perennial challenge of how to adequately recruit, resource and retain a workforce been solved by the Act?  The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted longstanding systemic issues in the workforce, and the jury is out on whether the Act will be able to resolve these with the urgency that healthcare leaders have long been calling for.

Another serious issue brought into sharp relief by the pandemic – Healthcare Inequalities – has also been accounted for in the Act, including a suite of provisions which will aim to improve outreach and access to health services for ‘people’ (as distinct from ‘patients’), and strengthen data collection and publication on marginalised groups. This dovetails to the Government’s wider ‘levelling up’ agenda.  Again, only time – and robust implementation – will tell whether these will deliver a transformative improvement to the health of the country’s marginalised or deprived communities, or whether we will need to wait for more policy ideas as the Government continues this agenda.

What next?  As the Act is committed to vellum, health policy watchers and practitioners will be poring over the detail to understand how its provisions will change on-the-ground delivery of healthcare. Keep tuned to MHP Mischief for continued analysis as this process plays out over the weeks and months ahead.

Capital Markets ESG Insights: April

Posted on: April 26th, 2022 by Tomas White

ESG insights is a quarterly report, which aims to examine some of the most pressing themes from the ESG landscape in the last few months.

We also look to include some practical recommendations, as well as featuring a Client in Focus, highlighting some of the good work being done in this area by our clients.

In this edition of our ESG Insights report, we explore some of the key ESG related themes arising from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.




For any questions or feedback, please contact the team at [email protected].

‘I talk to CEOs because they are at the coalface of business’ says Ian King of Sky News.

Posted on: April 21st, 2022 by Tomas White


As part of our latest MHP Mischief Media Network bulletin, Ian tells MHP how Sky News reaches a global audience and advises on how CEOs make for the perfect guest.

What do you think the big stories in the coming year for your audience?

It’s hard to get away from the war in Ukraine – which I suspect will drag on for months on end – and rising inflation and the cost of living crisis. Clearly the latter is in part a result of the former but there are other factors as well. It will have lots of interesting strands following on from that. One possible one is a rise in industrial unrest as workers react to the fact that wages are not rising as rapidly as inflation.

Another knock-on from the inflation story is the tightening of monetary policy from the likes of the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve and, who knows, maybe even the European Central Bank. The story of how consumers respond to that is going to be absolutely fascinating as it unfolds this year. If you assume the age of a typical first time buyer in 2009 was 30 – it was probably actually higher than that – then it means any homeowner under the age of 43 has never known a time when interest rates were not close to zero. It is going to be a really interesting experiment in consumer psychology.

At a macro level I am also going to be very interested to see how households and businesses adapt to the recent increases in National Insurance – whether, for example, it puts a dampener on what is really quite a hot labour market. I wrote a column for The Times recently speculating that the pendulum was going to swing back from capital to labour in a way it has not for the last four decades or so. It will all make for a busy time.

How would you describe the appetite for business news on television?

Very strong indeed. Our audience numbers went through the roof at the outset of the pandemic, which was why Sky News increased our on-air time significantly at that time. Although the numbers have come off the boil a bit, now that life is returning to normal, there is clearly still lots of interest in business news. Business, markets and economics have been a key strand of the Ukraine story and that will continue to be the case.

But I also detect a greater interest in investing, too, particularly among younger viewers, listeners and readers. I use those latter terms deliberately because what the business team does at Sky News is not confined to TV. Our digital platforms and other services, such as podcasts, all generate big audience numbers.

We look to attract a UK audience of 10 million across our platforms – don’t forget we’re on in 120-odd countries worldwide – and it has been appreciably higher than that in recent times.

What makes the ideal story for your show?

Nothing is off-limits. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something involving a familiar brand although obviously that will draw viewers in. We have deliberately done a lot on the tech sector and related areas where innovation is happening, such as life sciences, because me and my colleagues took the view several years ago that these were going to be the sectors delivering the most growth for the UK economy in this next decade and so it was worth focusing on those.

But there are other big themes – the transition to net zero, electrification and so on – that we also take a great deal of interest. So anything featuring innovation. And we are a global programme – we’ve lots of viewers in the Middle East and Africa in particular and so I am keen on doing things concerning those regions.

And personally I am very interested in stories around investment and pensions and so we look for stories from those sectors and around associated areas like infrastructure too.

What do you look for in a guest?

I like to talk to CEOs in particular because these are people at the coalface of business – and generally can offer very good insights as to what is happening in their business, sector and often with a read-across to the broader economy. I like to talk to market participants and investors.

And we love – see above – getting VCs and founders on because these are the people driving real innovation in the economy and creating wealth. The latter also tend to be younger and often more diverse, too, which helps reinforce the message that business, economics and markets news is for everyone and not just a certain demographic.

Basically I take the view that if I am going to find a guest or a story interesting, then the viewers, listeners and readers will too. And, of course, vice versa.

What’s the best way for a company with a story to tell to engage with the show?

Contact our senior producer, Piers Wisbey, or Kirsty Hickey, who deputises for him. Or me (by email please, otherwise the phone would ring off the hook). I’d rather hear about something than not hear about it and rest assured every email is read – albeit not always responded to.

Lies, damned lies and vranyo

Posted on: April 20th, 2022 by Tomas White

One of the defining features of Russian propaganda over the past few years has been the endless stream of lies it spews out. These often take the form of “doublespeak”, a term derived from George Orwell’s novel 1984, which distorts or reverses the meaning of words. Thus Russia blames Ukraine for every massacre of its own civilians and even the British for its other war crimes.

We observe this daily on social media in tweets from official Russian channels, whether from its local embassies, UN representatives or government officials. A simple example is the use of the following phrase in a recent tweet dated 18 April: “West shows total intolerance towards alternative views”. A breathtaking twisting of reality, when as we know Russia has closed down all independent thought. Indeed, one reads it and wonders for which audience it is designed – Russia’s dwindling cohort of aficionados, apologists and appeasers?

This culture of deception originates from the Russian concept of “vranyo”. This is a term derived from one of two Russian words for lies. Put simply, it means this: “When I lie to you, you know I’m lying to you, I know you know I’m lying and I still lie to you.” Russia has launched vranyo into overdrive for its war in order to confuse, distort and obfuscate and as means to exert power over its appeasers.

Meanwhile, we observe at home, the British Prime Minister being accused of being a serial liar. The latest meme on the topic is a word cloud created by his accusers to somehow prove their point, albeit it may suggest that he attracts bullies, not merely that he is prone to sophistry.

Given Mr Johnson’s pride in being a swot, one can speculate that he knows only too well about vranyo. Indeed the genesis of this blog comes from the fact that Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who trained at the end of the Cold War at Sandhurst, the Royal Military Academy, is reported as being familiar with the concept, and therefore so must be the Prime Minister.

One can therefore speculate that Johnson is deploying (skillfully or clumsily, depending on your take) the art of vranyo with the British public when it comes to Partygate. Whether he gets away with it is another matter but suffice to say the Russian regime got away with it for years – and arguably is still toying with its appeasers, who nod earnestly at every deception.

Johnson may not be so lucky, given the inevitable cycle of British general elections and the voting booths of public opinion.

Media Network: Forget about Covid. PA Media’s Science Correspondent Nina Massey on her changing priorities post pandemic

Posted on: April 12th, 2022 by Tomas White

How to land science-led coverage with PA Media

James Rollinson and Jaber Mohamed sat down with PA Media’s Science Correspondent Nina Massey to chat about the stories she’s looking to write over the coming months.

How much are you still writing about Covid and the Pandemic?

Unless the science is new, I am not really writing much about Covid. I think at this stage a lot is known about Covid as a disease. Honestly, I’m looking forward to writing about all the other science stories that may not have been covered over the last two years.

What sort of sciences stories are you interested in?

The stories that work best at PA are the ones that are relevant to real people. The ones where people are impacted in potentially both good and bad ways. But at PA, the science remit is broad and I can cover a very wide range of topics – everything from space and dinosaurs to climate change and medicines.

Now that the pandemic is over, how do you want companies to engage with you?

I’m really keen to meet people in-person and get back to live events. I want companies to show me the science behind their work rather than just tell me about it. I don’t mind travelling to visit organisations if they’ve got something interesting to show me. Seeing something for yourself always helps to bring the story to life a little.

Are you interested in exclusive stories?

Yes, PA is always interested in exclusive stories – we are always trying to tell new and interesting stories. And the best thing about giving us an exclusive is that it will go to all media organisations at both national and regional level.

The inside line on Times Deputy Business Editor Graham Ruddick’s move to Substack

MHP Mischief’s Alan Tovey spoke to Graham about the switch

Times Deputy Business Editor Graham Ruddick hopes to reach under-served markets with his move to Substack, the subscriber newsletter, where he will be writing “Off To Lunch“.

Ruddick told MHP Mischief his daily newsletter, which could start appearing as soon as next week, will cover “what really matters in business, finance, markets, venture capital, tech and crypto”.

He aims to exploit what he sees as a gap in the market, with traditional publications’ coverage of certain areas – specifically the digital economy and venture capitalism – failing to connect with younger audiences.

His switch to Substack, which allows journalists to charge subscribers directly with the platform taking a cut, opens up a new avenue to place stories that might not find a home in established publications.

Substack’s writers are unfiltered by normal structures of commissioning and editors, giving them the freedom to write about anything they want – and hope that there is demand for it.

After weeks of dominating the business pages, the war in Ukraine has now been overtaken by the cost-of-living crisis according to analysis by Pete Lambie

ITN staff nerves over mooted privatisation of Channel 4

Writes Charlotte Grant former ITN presenter and now broadcast consultant at MHP Mischief

The most divisive story of the week was the Government confirming it wants to privatise Channel 4. Presenters including Kirstie Allsopp, Anneka Rice and Monty Don all lined up to criticise the move.

Ministers insist it will free up the broadcaster to compete with streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. Others argue that Channel 4’s less commercial output like drama, news and current affairs will suffer.

ITV is reported to have already voiced an interest in buying the channel.  Key to any sale being voted through by MPs, will be editorial independence and funding of news being ringfenced.

For staff at ITN-run Channel 4 News, it’s an unsettling time. A source told us “there is concern over the continued uncertainty, C4 News has seen a lot of change over the past few months and this isn’t ideal timing – but management and C4 bosses are keen to keep chatting about the ongoing process and any potential impact on the newsroom.”

What do we expect to see on TalkTV?

Abigail Smith

MHP Mischief attended a preview event for the launch of TalkTV this week. News UK’s new TV channel launches in two weeks, but what has it learnt from the successes and shortcomings of GB News?

At the event producers promised to deliver high-quality, balanced journalism – aiming to poach an audience that spans from the Times, FT and WSJ through to The Sun and Daily Mail.

With a USP of delivering content in a new way, producers want to see Piers Morgan boxing Mike Tyson, and playing tennis with Emma Raducanu, whilst still competing as a news heavyweight with a team of credible journalists behind it. Guest panels will feature heavily and news will be ‘straight,’ not coming from an ideological standpoint.

Producers will be on the look out for guests and stories from the get go, so brands should be already thinking about what they can offer that appeals to TalkTV’s diverse intended audience.

Explainer videos generate record engagement

Nick Collins

“Explainer” videos about the war in Ukraine are receiving record-breaking engagement from online audiences with one recent video on the reasons behind the Russian invasion attracting 15 million views across all platforms, Press Gazette reports.

It follows the success of the BBC’s Ros Atkins, who has won a vast online audience through his series of explainers on issues ranging from UK politics to the Ukraine war.

After a period in which many news organisations have focused their growth strategy on opinion content fronted by star columnists, the success of fact-based explainer content demonstrates that online audiences are increasingly searching for reliable information as well as opinion.

Businesses developing thought leadership strategies or launching products in contested spaces should consider explainer content as a means of informing and engaging their audiences, as part of their content packages.

Movers and Shakers

Channel 5: Dan Walker is leaving the BBC Breakfast sofa to replace Sian Williams (another former Breakfast presenter) at Channel 5 News. He will anchor their flagship news show as well as other programmes across the channel.

Channel 4 News: After the departure of Jon Snow last year, C4 News have finally revealed their presenting line up for their flagship evening show. Krishnan Guru-Murphy will be the main anchor from their London studios, while Cathy Newman takes on the investigations brief alongside her presenting duties. Europe Editor Matt Frei will be the main foreign presenter and Jackie Long will continue presenting alongside her role as Social Affairs Editor.

Daily Telegraph: After five years covering finance, this week Lucy Burton started her new role as employment editor. Her new beat focuses on the evolving world of work and will include a weekly column. She has also said that she is not looking to cover survey based stories.

Our planet, our health: at the crossroads to a #HealthierTomorrow

Posted on: April 7th, 2022 by Tomas White

As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the third and final section of its comprehensive review of climate science this week, their message is unequivocal: we are running out of time to limit global warming to 1.5C.

The world is reaching a number of climate tipping points, which could have unreversible consequences on our planet and our health.

On this year’s World Health Day, we are at a crossroads.  There is still time to reverse the course of our actions to build a #HealthierTomorrow, but this can only be achieved through a rapid shift in the way we structure our societies and economies.

Throughout COP26, the phrase “the climate crisis is a health crisis” became part of the mainstream discourse.  It was championed by public figures, key opinion leaders and businesses, from Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid, to President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow Dr Jackie Taylor and pharmaceutical company Takeda.

This might be because we have experienced the consequences of public health and climate change first hand during the COVID-19 pandemic, or because all the latest evidence on climate change points to the same conclusion: our health depends on the health of our planet and the health of our planet depends on how we, humans, treat it.

According to WHO’s estimates, more than 13 million people die from avoidable environmental causes every year.  No less than 90 per cent of people breathe unhealthy air polluted by burning of fossil fuels which increases the risk of lung cancer, heart diseases and stroke, killing 13 people every minute.

In recent years, this gloomy reality has been reflected in the way we record deaths.  In 2019, scientists proved for the first time that the people who died from the 2018 heat wave in Japan were the “first provable deaths of climate change”.  In December 2020, the UK recognised its first death caused by air pollution, after a nine-year-old girl from South London died from an asthma attack.  Most recently, in January 2022 the Office for National Statistics published its first statistics on climate-related mortality and hospital admissions in England and Wales between 2001 and 2020.

While this picture might seem bleak, there is a lot to be hopeful for as initiatives all around the world focus their efforts on keeping humans and the planet healthy.

Since May 2021, MHP Mischief has been working with the Pathfinder Initiative, an ambitious coalition led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and some of the best scientific and policy institutions. [i]  Together, they show the world how well-designed climate change actions can benefit both the planet and population health.

Sir Andy Haines, Co-chair of the Pathfinder Initiative and Professor of Environmental Change and Public Health at LSHTM, shares his views on this year’s theme for World Health Day:

“The WHO’s decision to focus World Health Day this year on the theme “our planet, our health” signals the need for urgent, global action to address the climate crisis and in doing so protect human health.  While the health impacts of climate change are increasingly well-recognised, less emphasis has been placed on the potential health benefits of climate mitigation policies.  Greater awareness of these benefits is needed to help catalyse change and build momentum towards net zero.  Evaluation of the impacts of our efforts is essential to ensure that equitable benefits are achieved in practice.

The Pathfinder Initiative aims to address these information gaps and show how effective climate action can bring benefits to both the environment and human health.  Through showcasing examples of best practice in implementing solutions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving health, we hope to encourage others to take action and join the movement towards a healthy, zero-carbon future.”

Ultimately, our impact on the planet’s health is driven by political, social and economic decisions.

If we rethink the way our societies and economies work, we could build sustainable societies: where wealth is distributed more equally, where people can breathe healthier air and eat healthier diets that benefit both the health of our planet and the people who live on it and where well-designed and measured climate change solutions are put at the heart of national and international policies.

We are now at a crossroads where the pledges made by governments and businesses need to translate into actions and decision-makers should learn from existing initiatives that already get us closer to a #HealthierTomorrow.

For further reading, please read the blog by Sir Andy Haines explaining the urgency of climate action to protect our planet and our health and highlighting six shifts towards a #HealthierTomorrow here.

[i] The Initiative is led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Oak Foundation.  It includes C40 Cities, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), CDP, the OECD and the Alliance for Health Policy and Systems Research.

Energy Security Strategy: What Can We Expect?

Posted on: April 6th, 2022 by Tomas White

What is it?

The Strategy is focused on making the UK’s domestic energy sector fundamentally more resilient and, in the words of the Prime Minister, “wean the country off its dependency on Russian hydrocarbons”.

While Ministers are agreed on the importance of that objective, there have been clear divisions at Cabinet level on how best to achieve it. Predictably, the Treasury has expressed concerns about the cost of some of the flagship announcements such as more nuclear power stations, while there has been resistance from Nimbyish backbenchers and their allies in Government around more onshore wind farm developments.

All of this has contributed to a series of delays to the Strategy’s publication until it was finally signed off last week.


What’s going to be in it?

New nuclear reactors look set to be order of the day after years of inertia; the Prime Minister is an enthusiastic proponent, with BEIS Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng pointing to the example of France as a country which has derived energy independence from its strategic investment in nuclear over several decades. Six or seven new power stations by 2030 have been mooted, while a new company called Great British Nuclear will be established to support the small modular reactor sector. This is despite well-documented Treasury squeamishness about the cost.

Offshore wind is set to be the other big winner, with the Prime Minister keen on appointing a “Kate-Bingham like” figure to lead a substantial expansion of the sector. Solar is another green technology which will play a part, with financial incentives and planning changes to stimulate adoption set for inclusion in the plan.

There may also be a reprieve for the North Sea oil and gas sector, with the Prime Minister repeatedly stressing the importance of increased domestic production. Plans for further exploration would however open another front in Westminster’s ever terse relationship with Holyrood; only recently, the SNP Government – supported by the Scottish Greens – said a new oilfield near Shetland should not proceed.


What’s unlikely to feature?

Despite some enthusiastic briefing over recent weeks about a potential renaissance for onshore wind turbines – the bête noire of shire Tories – they seem likely to play a less prominent role based on the indications coming out from Government. A counteroffensive led by some backbenchers and their Cabinet allies, notably the Chief Whip Christ Heaton-Harris, who is a longstanding campaigner against onshore wind, appears to have won the day.

It therefore seems unlikely that the effective ban on new onshore wind farms introduced in 2015 will be scrapped in the Strategy, though a review of planning legislation could take place – Kwasi Kwarteng has been keen to emphasise the importance of “community consent” in shaping the delivery of any new developments included in the Strategy.

The science and safety of fracking, which has been enthusiastically championed by some Tory MPs, is to be reviewed again but is unlikely to emerge from the long grass this time round given the controversy which still surrounds it.


What happens next?

The Government have positioned the Strategy as essential for the long-term. However, given the problems posed by the cost-of-living crisis, its benefits may not be immediately clear to those people across the country dealing with spiralling bills.

As with the recent Spring Statement, goodwill is likely to be limited – Keir Starmer has already set out his stall, stating the Strategy needs to go harder and faster on hydrogen, onshore wind and tackling energy inefficient building stock.

However, with the emphasis particularly on nuclear, it does signal a step-change in the UK’s energy approach and presents an opportunity for business which seemed unlikely even a few months ago.

The PA team will provide a full summary of the Strategy, detailing key announcements and reaction, following its publication on Thursday.

Bill Watch: a review of the Health and Care Bill’s passage through The Lords

Posted on: April 5th, 2022 by Tomas White

As the Bill oscillates between the Houses, questions remain as to what concessions may be waived through to get the Bill through to Royal Assent by the end of the month. How much power will the Secretary of State eventually clinch? Will there be plans established to strengthen workforce planning? To what levels will Government be willing to compromise and how can they minimise the ongoing uncertainty for NHS leaders?

Since the Bill’s arrival, the MHP Health team have kept a close eye on its Parliamentary journey. We are pleased to share with you our latest analysis, Bill Watch: A review of the Health and Care Bill’s passage through the Lords.

As we continue to follow the Bill’s passage, MHP Health will keep you on the inside track as it nears completion and look ahead to what it will all mean for those working and interacting with the health service.

Happy reading.

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