Engaging people through animations: explaining the NHS

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The issue

The NHS is large and complex, formed of many diverse organisations with different roles and responsibilities. Making sense of how it works can be challenging, even to those who work within it. The reforms introduced by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 added to this challenge by putting in place an even more complicated and fragmented system.

What did we do?

An important part of the Fund’s work is promoting understanding of the health and social care system. In recent years, we have focused on animations to help a wide audience understand the NHS. In 2013, we published An alternative guide to the new NHS, a six-and-a-half minute animation which provided a whistle-stop tour of the NHS and explained the reforms in the 2012 Act. It was designed to be informal and accessible, to help our current audiences and new ones to understand the NHS.

The animation proved hugely popular, underlining the need for engaging content that provides a simple explanation of complex health policy and systems. Building on its success, we launched two further alternative guides, on urgent and emergency care and mental health. In 2017, we updated the NHS animation to reflect changes, such as NHS England’s NHS five year forward view and its focus on new models of care, and the introduction of sustainability and transformation partnerships.

What was the impact?

The NHS animation has been our most popular piece of digital content. The updated version brought the highest ever number of visits to the website in October 2017 (316,267) and continues to get thousands of views each week. It is being used in staff induction and training sessions across the country and has been shared within NHS trusts and national bodies (eg, NHS England, NHS Providers, Royal College of Nursing) and embedded in the websites of many NHS organisations. It has also proved popular with patients and the public.

Absolutely excellent in every way. Clear, succinct, does not use jargon… As a lay person who finds it very difficult to understand and keep up with the changing structure of our health care system I am enormously grateful to The King’s Fund for this video.
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