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It's Not Just an Illness: NHS Encourages Public to Keep on Top of Their Health

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Campaign addresses the barriers that are deterring patients from accessing NHS services

It's Not Just an Illness: NHS Encourages Public to Keep on Top of Their Health

NHS England and NHS Improvement and Public Health England are kick-starting this year’s ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign by reassuring the public that the NHS is ‘here to see you safely’ if you have a symptom that could be cancer, a maternity concern, or a routine appointment.  The campaign will also encourage those with mental health problems to seek support. 

Covid-19 has dramatically changed the way that people access NHS services. A new survey  conducted for NHS England has found that almost half (48%) of the public would delay or not seek medical advice. A fifth (22%) said this was because they did not want to burden the NHS. A similar proportion said that fear of getting coronavirus or passing it onto others was a major reason for not getting help.

This insight gave rise to the new ‘Just’ creative, developed by M&C Saatchi, which highlights  the little ‘excuses’ people use when they are reluctant to seek medical attention, such as 'I’m sure it’s just nothing' or 'I’ll just see how it goes'. Pointing out key cancer signs for the first  phase of campaign activity, the creative encourages those who may have spotted them to 'Just speak to their GP'. 

In a TV spot and associated print, digital and social activity, the ‘Just’ excuses are manifested as tattoos on the body on locations relevant to each symptom. By making the invisible visible, the creative brings to life both the physical site of the symptom and the mental barrier that’s  getting in the way of having it checked out. 

The NHS has introduced a range of measures to ensure the safety of patients, including Covid-secure wards, Covid protected cancer surgical hubs, and phone and digital  consultations. The ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign will reassure the public and address the  barriers that are deterring patients accessing the NHS across priority conditions.  

The campaign will encourage the public to speak to their GP if they are worried about a  symptom that could be cancer (e.g. unexplained blood that doesn’t come from an obvious injury, an unexplained lump or an unexplained pain that lasts three weeks or more), but also remind pregnant women to attend check-ups and seek advice if they are worried about their baby, ask patients to keep their routine appointments and encourage those with mental health issues to access NHS support.

Phil Bastable, head of campaigns and social media at NHS England and NHS Improvement, comments: “Covid-19 has had a huge effect on how people are accessing  the NHS. The way the public came together earlier this year to show support for NHS staff, care workers and key workers was incredible, but many people have continued to avoid  seeking medical help. The new ‘Help Us, Help You’ campaign has been created to reassure the public and urge them not to put off seeing their GP, particularly if they are worried about a symptom that could be cancer. We hope the ‘Just’ creative will resonate with people and  encourage them to seek medical care – because the NHS is still here for them and can see  them safely.” 

Ben Golik, chief creative officer at M&C Saatchi, comments: “Cancer diagnoses are  down. But we know cancer has not gone away. We’re proud to have worked on this vital campaign to help those who have not sought help to overcome the barriers to do so. Some of those barriers are new – like a sense of civic duty to ‘Just not bother the NHS’. Others are old, like a natural inclination to play down symptoms as ‘Just nothing’. Our simple message is to ‘Just’ be seen.” 

Narghi, director from Missing Link Films, comments: "It was important for all of us to craft  these films with care and sensitivity. We wanted to capture the quiet yet powerful emotions behind the ‘Just' barriers in an honest way. And we hope this vital message resonates with viewers and encourages anyone that needs it to get seen. Working on a big topic in a small way has meant a great deal and I'm really proud to have worked on this campaign for the NHS.” 

In addition to TV advertising and posters that focus on cancer symptoms, this first phase of  the campaign will include new and targeted executions focusing on maternity services, elective appointments, and mental health services. The campaign will be also be amplified through PR (freuds), which will include the release of a new film, fronted by famous faces such as Gordon Ramsay and Emma Thompson, that celebrates the NHS and reassures them the NHS can still see them safely; partnerships (23red); social media and specific Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (MMC) and disability groups’ communications (BDS Communications).  

The campaign will run throughout the winter until March and the initial burst of activity will be followed by targeted comms to remind the public of the actions they can take to help them stay well over the winter months and continue to use NHS services safely.  

Your NHS is here to see you, safely. Help Us, Help You. 

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Head of Campaigns & Social Media: Phil Bastable 

Senior Campaign Manager: Ben King 

Campaign Manager: Brian Lobo 


Head of Ageing Well Marketing: Eleanor Walsh 

Campaign Lead: Louise Brown 


Production Company: Missing Link Films 

Director: Narghi 

Producer: Ben Link 

Executive Producer: Heather Link 

Production Manager: Portia Abatan 

Director of Photography: Joel Honeywell 

Production Designer: Bon Walsh 

1st AD: Sam Powell 

Hair and Makeup: Kate Benton 

Wardrobe: Emma Lipop 

Editor: Eve Ashwell @ The Assembly Rooms 

Colourist: Matt Turner @ Absolute Post 

Music: Finger Music 

Sound: 750mph 


Photographer: Craig Easton


FILM LAB:  Cinelab London

FILM LAB Commercials Producer:   Aarti Mahtani


Genres: People, Dialogue

Categories: Health, Corporate, Social and PSAs

M&C Saatchi London, Tue, 13 Oct 2020 15:40:13 GMT