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Celebrity endorsement for hospitals

29th November 2006

29112006_bill_board2.jpgCelebrities have long been willing to support their local hospitals, but now they could be asked to advertise them, as part of a new code.

The code of practice has been put forward for allowing health organisations to advertise their services to attract potential patients in the new world of competition and choice.

Ministers have said they think it acceptable for trusts in England to use TV celebrities, pop stars or footballers to promote the merits of a hospital as it competes for NHS patients. But hospitals should not use celebrities considered as medical experts to endorse their services.

The code protects against trusts attacking each other, or individuals, in an effort to protect the NHS ‘brand’. The rules also aim to stop anything that may cause alarm or widespread anxiety.

The guidance warns against spending a ‘disproportionate’ amount on advertising or promotional work, and goes on to say that TV advertising is unlikely to be cost effective.

No figures are given, instead hospitals will self-regulate but may face an expert panel to hear complaints and issue warnings and reprimands.

The code prevents hospitals paying doctors to refer patients or commission services, although it allows for ‘reasonable hospitality’.

The draft code will now undergo a three-month consultation period before being finalised.

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Article Information

Title: Celebrity endorsement for hospitals
Author: Sue Knights
Article Id: 1332
Date Added: 29th Nov 2006


The Guardian

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