Published: 14/03/2002, Volume II2, No. 5796 Page 10

The NHS should be more like film star Elizabeth Hurley, according to the Department of Health's director of communications Sian Jarvis.

'Liz Hurley knows exactly how to sell herself and the NHS should do the same, ' Ms Jarvis said in an interview with magazine PR Week. 'It is no longer enough to be doing a good job, they have to be seen to be doing a good job. If trusts or health authorities feel they have had unfair criticism, they should stand up for themselves.'

Ms Jarvis also spoke about the reaction from NHS staff to the way health secretary Alan Milburn and prime minister Tony Blair leapt to the defence of staff at the Whittington Hospital, in London, when they were criticised for the care of Rose Addis.

She said: 'I have met many doctors and nurses and the feedback I have had is that they were delighted to be supported in that way.'

In the interview on the role public relations will play in the structural changes about to unfold in the NHS, she estimated that 50 per cent of NHS organisations are without dedicated communications staff. Ms Jarvis also suggested the changes would mean a strengthened role for public relations staff, who she promised a 'bigger and better role'.