NHS South of Tyne and Wear

Find out about the research we undertook for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, looking at decreasing the risk of CVD...

"I have found Explain's service to be extremely efficient."

The customer

NHS South of Tyne and Wear (NHS SoTW) covered Gateshead Primary Care Trust (PCT), South Tyneside Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust (TPCT) and was the name given to the integrated management arrangements which existed across the three PCTs. At the start of this project responsibility for CVD and NHS Health Checks sat with NHS (SOTW) which then moved over to the public health teams within the three councils. We worked with the teams across the transition from PCTs to public health.

The need

The overall aim of the project was to gather insight to reduce health inequalities in the area by identifying preventative measures to assess those at risk of CVD and implement appropriate interventions before their health deteriorates.

The outcome

Explain's approach to this project has been closely aligned to the social marketing total process planning model and can be broken down into a number of stages.


Explain was commissioned to engage with both the public and medical practitioners who were deemed likely to be involved in the pathway which was based around NHS Health Checks.

In terms of public engagement, the key objectives were to gain an understanding of the target audience and the barriers that would prevent them from using the pathway. Explain conducted a series of focus groups with individuals who displayed risk factors for CVD, e.g. heavy smokers/drinkers, people with diabetes/weight problems, etc. The feedback collected was used to segment the target audience into four key groups as well as to inform an overall marketing strategy for the pathway and creative campaign designed to encourage the target audiences to have an NHS Health Check, i.e. moving from the current to the desired behaviour.

In-depth interviews were conducted with GPs, optometrists, dentists and pharmacists to identify how they could be best supported in relation to the pathway, specifically in terms of referral and testing. This was then used in the development of the pathway itself and the associated support system.

The scoping stage was used to develop the proposition, a marketing plan and a range of creatives, tested in the subsequent stage.


Creatives were tested with the target audience to ensure that they were relevant before they went live. This included consultation with pharmacists, GPs, BME groups and the general public. This stage enabled Explain to confirm the social marketing mix to be carried forward, ensuring the campaign was the most cost and reach effective for each segment identified.

Implementation, Evaluation and Follow up

It was identified that lower SEG males aged 40 to 75, were an audience that had been least likely to present for a health check since the implementation of the pathway. A number of harder hitting campaign options were developed for this target audience and Explain attended social clubs and pubs to pre-test the options with the audience. The preferred campaign option was selected and was launched in the most deprived areas of South of Tyne and Wear.

Finally we evaluated the campaign that had been launched, informing future plans for the campaign and NHS Health Checks pathway, outlining areas for development and success stories.


"I have found Explain's service to be extremely efficient.  Their approach is friendly yet timely - all projects have been delivered on time and within the agreed budget. Explain has been flexible to additional and changing requirements of the work we have requested and in commissioning the work, they were competitive in relation to value for money. We have a very positive working relationship with the team which is developing over time. I have also found that Explain are clear about what they can (and more importantly what they cannot) do."

Amanda Healy, previously NHS South of Tyne and Wear and now South Tyneside Council

Sage Bellway

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