Whitehall acts on fears over NHS website

Publishers have held talks with representatives of the Department of Health to discuss guidelines for the new NHS recruitment website.

The Government is proposing to create a central NHS website which would carry job ads and information on the public services in direct competition with thousands of B2B titles such as Nursing Times, Community Care and Hospital Doctor.

The meeting on 20 January was hosted by the Department of Trade and Industry and included representatives from both the Periodical Publishers Association and the Newspaper Society.

Publishers raised questions about access to information about jobs, how private-public sector co-operation could help reach performance targets and the need for regular consultation.

In turn, the DoH asked publishers for suggestions on how the recruitment data could be used for discussion at a future liaison meeting.

The PPA has been working closely with the Digital Content Forum, to formulate a draft code of practice and will liaise with magazine publishers to put forward suggested models for discussion.

MPs including Austin Mitchell raised concerns in Parliament about the project last month.

There are 2,500 B2B magazines in the UK involved in the public sector – many of which are dependant on recruitment advertising for their income.

One of the main issues raised in Parliament was the transparency of costs involved in running the NHS site, given that the majority of magazine websites are expensive to run and require a lot of expertise.

The possibility of pressing for a code of competitiveness was also raised.

By Ruth Addicott

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