Category Archives: Archive (examples of my work)

Health Chat with Matt Hancock

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock makes a point to Roy Lilley at a recent Health Chat interview

At the start of February, I went to see health and social care secretary Matt Hancock interviewed by veteran NHS commentator Roy Lilley, who runs a distinctive and lively newsletter about the healthcare scene and its many challenges.

It’s hard to believe Hancock will be around long, given the government’s own challenges over Brexit, and his own track-record of staying in ministerial jobs just long-enough to deliver one headline-grabbing initiative before heading off on and up. But he has been greeted as a breath of fresh air by many working in the health tech space.

I wrote up the Health Chat for Highland Marketing, adding value by giving a flavour of the occasion, and what Hancock’s replies might mean for healthcare IT particularly (word file here, and original link here, which may break over time). This also featured in Roy Lilley’s newsletter, which claims a readership of some 300,000 people.

An interview is worth 1,000 words (three examples)

Highland Marketing conducts interviews with leading figures in the healthcare IT industry. Why? Well, they inform our understanding of the health tech market. And they provide valuable information for clients and non-clients; who, by and large, can no longer read long-form content on under-resourced and under-staffed B2B websites.

Reporter's notebook with speech bubble and speech marks: long form interviews have a lot to say
Long form interviews have a lot to say

One recent interview was with Stephen Dobson, the chief digital officer for the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, which is taking forward the ambitious DevoManc agenda (Word file here). Dobson’s interview is interesting, because it shows just how much basic infrastructure is needed to join up health and care IT systems (original on HM website, link may break over time).

Two further recent interviews have been with Richard Corbridge, a high-profile chief information officer in Leeds (Word file) and Rachel Dunscombe, an equally high profile chief digital officer in Salford and chief executive of the NHS Digital Academy (Word file). Both are interesting for their views on what needs to be done to complete the digitisation of their trusts: while getting into the more current agenda of integrated care and population health management (originals here and here).

The Budget and the NHS Long Term Plan: briefings and feature coverage

Reporter's notebook with headline and bullet point icons: briefings tell readers what matters
Headline, bullet points: briefings convey what matters and what it all means

The October 2018 Budget and the January 2019 NHS Long Term Plan will have a significant impact on health and care; and on their tech markets.

I wrote a detailed briefing about the impact of the Budget for Highland Marketing’s clients and prospects (Word doc here), and a shorter feature for the HM website (Word doc here).

Chancellor Philip Hammond moved his statement to the Commons from its usual slot to try and avoid Halloween – but the temptation to use ghoulish imagery was too much. We had him looking particularly Lurch-like on the original feature (website link, may break in time).

I also wrote a briefing to help HM clients through the 134 pages of the plan (Word doc here), and where the technology impacts sit; with a similar feature for the website (Word doc here).

Liveblogging Open Data Camp, Cardiff


Coffee, check, bun, check, laptop, check… liveblogging is go…

Last weekend I was part of a team that went to Cardiff to cover the fourth Open Data Camp. Two ‘drawnalists’ (from captured the event in pictures, while I helped Adam Tinworth (from one man and his blog) to live-blog the sessions.

Open Data Camp is a two-day event that brings together organisations committed to releasing information as open data and developers that want to use it in products of various kinds (anyone for a ‘Pokemon for Trees’ in Bristol?)

Its fourth iteration had more than 125 delegates on the first day and more than 100 on the second, and they pitched more than 30 sessions to what is an ‘unconference’ (delegates propose sessions, decide what to go to, speak up if they have something to say, and move on if something isn’t working out for them).

So the job… work out what is going on, agree with the organisers what to cover, dash along to a session, accurately capture what is being said or debated, turn that into a coherent report at the same time, be done and dusted by the end of the session or very shortly after that, load the post with drawnalism capture, Tweet, and get off to the next one…

It’s a lot of skill. I noted after the same team covered Open Data Camp 3 in Bristol that my Crown Court reporting experience comes in very handy. In court, I’d listen to one case while writing out enough of another to be able to ‘read’ a story to copy-takers during a break (full stop, new par…).

Now, copy is posted electronically; but you still need to be able to listen out for the points that are going to engage your audience, get them down accurately, capture quotes, shape-up a story on the run, and be ready to help colleagues (once snappers, now drawnalists) with supporting images.

Plus, of course, you need digital dexterity (Tweet and keep on Tweeting). And with just a half hour break, it helps not to need too much by way of lunch, as well!

Still, it’s an engaging challenge; and we got some almost embarrassingly good feedback on the #odcamp hashtag on Twitter. The very, very live-blog is at and there’s more about Drawnalism and what its artists got up to on

(More) editorials

As I noted in a post back in January, I write all the editorials for the newsletters put out by

Two recent editorials have covered the end of the National Programme for IT in the NHS,  programme launched with much fanfare in 2002, and now effectively disowned by the government and the Department of Health, and the effective return of the highly controversial programme to distribute personal medical data to researchers and companies.

Live blogging

On the weekend of 14-15 May 2016, I joined my partner, Matt Buck @Drawnalism to liveblog the third Open Data Camp at the Watershed in Bristol.

While Matt and his colleague, Royston Robertson, drew the event, I wrote it up live with Adam Tinworth (from ‘One Man and his Blog‘). Liveblogging is an interesting exercise: from a writing perspective, you’re taking accurate notes, looking out for themes and killer quotes, and crafting up a story as you go along, so you’re all but done and dusted by the time the next session comes around.

My background covering councils and courts for local papers came in more than a little handy! Oh yes, and it was a very interesting conference too. Committed people. Great ideas. Excellent venue. And cake… More on working live on the Drawnalism website. Everything from the liveblog on the liveblog.


Wooden printing blocks for 'news' archive

As managing editor of, I don’t get to write all that many news stories (we have reporters, and very good they are too!)

However, because of my experience in working for policy titles and think-tanks, I tend to write the “big picture” or policy and finance stories that frame the context in which our readers work. Four stories I’ve written in the past month [mid December 2015 – mid January 2016]:

NHS deficits “unsustainable” – NAO warns: The National Audit Office publishes an annual report looking at the state of NHS trust finances, and it’s been getting gloomier and gloomier over the past four years.

This news story outlines the NAO’s latest findings as the backdrop against which hospital boards and IT departments will be making or not making IT investments; depending on whether they see technology as a way of achieving savings, or an easy target for cuts. The report also features in a editorial and one of my own blog-posts.

IT funds to come from transformation pot: This is a news story about another annual publication; NHS England’s forward planning guidance, aka the NHS chief executive’s “must do” list.

It’s a good example of a business to business title doing its job by relating a general publication to the interests of its readers – in this case by focusing on what the planning guidance has to say about NHS IT funding – and generating debate about it.

NHS England ad wants “outstanding” CI&TO: This is a straightforward news story about NHS England advertising for someone to fill the shoes of Tim Kelsey, its invariably headline-ready director of patients and information. ran profiles and analysis of Kelsey’s impact when he announced he was leaving for a job in Australia in October 2015, so this story adds a new dimension by listing some of the previous holders of the top job in NHS IT leadership, and indicating briefly how their roles have changed.

Blackpool struggles with Lorenzo deployment: This news story is based on a local newspaper report about problems with the deployment of an electronic patient record called Lorenzo at Blackpool’s big, acute hospital.

The trust’s press office said I could have 15 minutes with the IT director, but he and a colleague were on the phone for nearly an hour, and were very honest about why the roll-out was proving so difficult. So I wrote a feature as well.

This is a good example of a business to business publication doing its job by reporting frankly on problems, without taking a shock, horror, disaster approach. Nice as bad news headlines are for traffic!