Corporate images of the United Kingdom National Health Service: implications for the recruitment and retention of nursing and allied health professional staff

Arnold, John; Coombs, Crispin; Wilkinson, Adrian; Loan-Clarke, John; Park, Jennifer and Preston, Diane (2003). Corporate images of the United Kingdom National Health Service: implications for the recruitment and retention of nursing and allied health professional staff. Corporate Reputation Review, 6(3) pp. 223–238.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.crr.1540202

Abstract

A qualitative study is reported concerning the images of the UK's National Health Service (NHS) held by 231 potential recruits in the nursing, physiotherapy and radiography professions. Existing research suggests that these images are likely to affect willingness to be employed by the NHS, and that this could crucially affect the achievement of UK government targets for NHS workforce expansion. It also suggests that images and the reputation of the NHS are likely to be very difficult to manage. The present research found that dominant images of the NHS concerned its operational difficulties, especially pressure, understaffing and resource shortages, although its core mission of equal access to healthcare for all was also salient. Interviewees reported that their images of the NHS were derived from media coverage as well as personal experience. Although the NHS's ideals were applauded, there was relatively little sign that informants personally identified with the NHS. The findings are discussed in the contexts of the interplay between image and identity, and of practical attempts to improve the NHS's reputation as an employer.

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