The Secretary of State for Health commissioned an independent report to review and develop recommendations on the themes and lessons learnt from NHS investigations into matters relating to Jimmy Savile. This included independent oversight of the investigations at three NHS hospitals – Leeds General Infirmary, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, and Broadmoor Hospital – and at the Department of Health and Social Care, into the association Savile had with those hospitals and the Department, and allegations that Savile committed sexual abuses on the hospitals’ premises. The Secretary of State also asked that the report looked at and made recommendations for NHS-wide procedures. As the Department of Health and Social Care was one of the organisations reviewed in the report, an independent Chair for the national press conference marking the publication of the report and its recommendations was sought. Steph Hood from Hood & Woolf was commissioned for this role. Our brief was to prepare for and chair the national press conference, balancing gravitas and empathy with organisational neutrality in a highly charged, extremely sensitive and emotive high-profile environment.
In preparation for the publication of the independent report and press conference, we worked with all parties – independent investigators, NHS trust chief executives, Department officials, NHS trust communications leads and the Department of Health and Social Care press office – to plan the effective and non-partisan delivery of the report’s findings. The press conference attracted all the national print and broadcast media, local media to Leeds General Infirmary, Stoke Mandeville and Broadmoor hospitals, trade media and campaign group leaders on behalf of the victims. The press conference was broadcast live across all national channels.
Steph chaired, facilitated and ensured the smooth running of the press conference and managed all parties involved to make sure the key findings from the report(s) were conveyed and all media outlets had the opportunity to ask questions and conduct interviews as required. Positive feedback on Steph’s role was received from the independent investigators, NHS trust chief executives, the Department of Health and Social Care and journalists. The Department of Health and Social Care noted Steph ‘managed a very high profile and challenging media occasion (and with some panellists not used to any spotlight, let alone such a strong one) with great skill.’