Working Group of Communication Professionals (WGCP)

Introduction/Overview/Mandate

The Working Group of Communications Professionals (WGCP) was established in 2007 by the HMA to  help develop communications expertise, share good practice, help co-ordinate communications across the HMA network in a crisis, develop HMA’s engagement with its stakeholders and help develop and improve the website for the HMA.

The WGCP supports the work of the European Regulatory medicines network (ERMN) in regard to public health and animal health and welfare, the HMA Working Group of Communication Professionals (HMA WGCP) shall foster the professional communication between ERMN, its stakeholders (e.g. patients, physicians, veterinarians, pharmaceutical industry, and other healthcare professionals) and the general public (including the media).

Members and Representatives

  • Representatives from both human and veterinary regulatory bodies.
  • Representatives from bodies across the NCAs, EFTA states and the European Medicines Agency.
  • WGCP is currently chaired by MHRA, UK with an election every two years.
  • Chair:  Rachel Bosworth, MHRA, UK.
  • Mentor: Ian Hudson, MHRA, UK.
  • Meeting cycle:  two times per year, once per EU-presidency (The secretariat for the group is provided by the country hosting the meeting).
  • The members of the WGCP are appointed on the basis of their expertise in communication and, if appropriate, experience in the field of human or veterinary medicines. Members are designated by the National Competent Authorities.

Contact

Contact Point:

Ms. Rachel Bosworth (Chairperson), MHRA, UK
E-Mail: Rachel.Bosworth@mhra.gov.uk

Activities and achievements

A HMA Communications Strategy 2012-2015 to support the implementation of the HMA Strategy was developed and agreed by the HMA in June 2012.

-The Strategy acknowledges that the HMA has a number of diverse stakeholders, and particularly highlights the need to establish two-way communication and effective relationships with industry and other regulators. This has to be sustained to build trust and a shared commitment to work together to protect and promote public and animal health. It is acknowledged that communications with industry will be handled via the relevant industry associations as it is recognised they are an excellent channel to individual member states. A list of priority stakeholders was also agreed.

As well as this focus on communications with industry and other stakeholders it was agreed the HMA web presence needs to be enhanced. There are also a number of other important areas where communication needs to be co-ordinated between national agencies. For example, the new pharmacovigilance legislation requires a consistency of high level messages across the European network, and also offers the opportunity for sharing communications resources and best practice. This work is mostly targeted at healthcare professionals, together with patients and the public. In addition, the licensing decisions made in one country can impact very quickly and dynamically on other Member States, because of the way in which the media operates on a Pan-European and often global basis and the speed with which news stories develop. It is therefore essential that robust communication channels are in place to help disseminate information across the network, including media handling approaches, where issues arise or in crisis situations. This will not only help consistency in messaging across Member States; help prevent mixed messages or media confusion; and ultimately help build credibility and trust for the regulatory system. Therefore, under the HMA strategic theme of communications, three priorities were confirmed:

• Communicating and interacting with industry and stakeholders;

• Website enhancement; and

• Crisis communication links between regulators.

Work started on improving the HMA website through an audit and update of all the current information held. Users were surveyed both within the HMA group of regulators and external stakeholders on their needs for the future design of this web site. The direction the HMA wished to take was also established and a final concept paper was prepared following the findings arising from the survey. Work was also conducted on developing a proposal to submit to the HMA on how to better manage crisis communications across the HMA, particularly focussing on media relations and some very practical aspects of delivery. It will also cover the management of issues. Work was conducted on helping the more effective sharing of information across the HMA network, particularly focusing on pharmacovigilance and the new arrangements under PRAC was also started. A stakeholder action plan was drawn up with the commitment to review this on a regular basis.

Key documents list