- Mellors Reay and Partners is in line for a major campaign to promote a new telephone helpline being run by the National Health Service.
Government officials say the agency has produced "good work" for a £250,000 local radio and newspaper push launched in three pilot areas this week, and is expected to be retained as the service is gradually extended nation-wide by the year 2000. The account could eventually be worth between £1 million and £2 million.
In its first work since being added to the Government's roster last summer, Mellors Reay has produced three press and radio ads encouraging people worried about a crying baby, a persistent headache and a painful ankle to ring the NHS direct helpline.
Ministers believe the 24-hour helpline, manned by nurses, could make the NHS more effective and efficient, getting immediate help to "at risk" patients while relieving the pressure on GP surgeries and hospital accident and emergency departments caused by non-urgent cases. Helplines have proved successful in the United States.
Romola Christopherson, director of press and publicity at the Department of Health, said: "This started as a small-scale job for the agency but, unusually, it could become a very high-profile one over time. The pilot schemes will test the ads as well as the service."
The three month campaign will be backed up by a leaflet drop to the households in the Milton Keynes, Preston and Newcastle areas. It may be fine tuned as the volume, type and duration of calls is monitored.