A question of Faith

Despite what you might read it’s not all A&E waiting times, drunks and chronic obesity working in NHS communications.

One thing that I’ve found since joining the NHS last summer is that it’s a hugely varied and all encompassing role. I’ve been pretty lucky with the timings because I’ve been the lead on communicating two fairly major and unique new buildings for the NHS.

As well as a CSI-esque pathology lab we’ve just opened a brand new emergency care centre and it’s been fascinating to see just how complex and detailed the planning for these type of projects can be.

As well as all the technology and clinical equipment that you’ll need, did you think about he public art?

Well me neither, but our new unit is a huge public space that thousands of people pass through everyday.

I’ve learned that the look and feel of hospital buildings is increasingly important not just for patients but also families and visitors. Gateshead has a long and proud history of public art, most notably with Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North and there’s a nice symmetry here because I worked on the 10th anniversary campaign during my first time in Gateshead back in 2008.

Our new unit uses a giant steel sculpture as the centrepiece for the new main entrance and the piece – called Faith – is certainly an eye catching part of the building. It was fascinating to work with the artist Joseph Hellier to help promote it and understand how he came up with the concept.

The installation is essentially a giant steel figure modelled at over twice life size (standing straight the figure would measure 3.6m) and weighing in at more than 530kg.

Joseph talks about how the placebo effect of good art and the ability to put people at ease played a big part in the creative process, while I’m sure other visitors will just appreciate it for the asthetic it brings.

Whatever you think it’s certainly given us another angle to help communicate the benefits of a brand new hospital unit.

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