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NHS Direct

Behaviour change to reduce pressure on emergency services

One in four of all visits to accident and emergency departments could be better treated elsewhere in the NHS. All of those unnecessary trips to A&E put extra pressure on the emergency services, especially during the busy winter period. To begin tackling this, we worked with NHS Direct and Merseyside Primary Care Trust to create the ‘Choose well’ brand and behaviour change campaign. Its goal was to inform and persuade people that making the right choice of service not only ensures they get the right treatment for their symptoms, but helps the NHS too.

The brand’s distinctive thermometer look and feel, clear messaging and simple, colour-coded visual system helped convey the different levels of symptoms and the corresponding treatment.

The campaign was delivered across a huge range of targeted channels, including local newspapers, radio spots, poster advertising, direct mail and materials in pharmacies and GP surgeries. It resulted in 84% of people in the pilot area indicating that they were clear which service to use, and 93% believing that the campaign was of benefit to the NHS.

Following the successful roll-out of Choose well in the Northwest, we worked with a number of NHS organisations to adapt the campaign to different target audiences in different regions. The striking success of Choose well was recognised by the Department of Health, who subsequently expanded the reach of the brand throughout the NHS. And the campaign’s impacts where also recognised when it won a coveted Marketing Design Award.