DoH to take control of Health Authority tasks

The Department of Health is to take direct control of the campaigns run by the Health Education Authority in a move that gives yet more power to the Central Office of Information.

The Department of Health is to take direct control of the campaigns

run by the Health Education Authority in a move that gives yet more

power to the Central Office of Information.



Ministers have decided that all HEA accounts will be handled by the COI.

The takeover has shocked staff at the HEA, who have long argued that

they could buy ads more cheaply than the COI and have resisted previous

moves to put them under its umbrella. Privately, HEA bosses are furious

that they were not given the chance to pitch against the COI.



The change is a boost for the COI but puts a question mark over the

HEA’s future involvement in advertising and a roster review due when

contracts with its agencies expire next March.



HEA accounts include the anti-smoking drive - held by Abbott Mead

Vickers BBDO - on which ministers have promised a pounds 50 million

blitz, and the pounds 2.5 million-a-year anti-drugs campaign, for which

Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters won the Grand Prix at last year’s IPA

Effectiveness Awards.



The writing was on the wall for the HEA when ministers asked the COI to

handle a review of the Government’s anti-smoking account.



The COI will also now run a drive to reduce teenage pregnancies. A DoH

source said: ’Other HEA campaigns will gradually switch over to the

COI.’



The shake-up follows the Government’s decision to scrap the HEA from

January and replace it with a Health Development Agency, which will

focus more on research.



The health secretary, Frank Dobson, said: ’One of the reasons we are

going to transform the HEA is because most of the advertising and

campaigning has the biggest impact on the people who are healthiest

already. We have got to turn round the targeting of the campaigns so

that they appeal, catch the eye, and get better results among people who

are badly off.’



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