Ministers are expected to publish a code of practice next week to regulate NHS organisations that fund marketing and advertising campaigns.
Dr Gill Morgan, chief executive of the NHS Confederation which represents over 90 per cent of NHS organisations, said:
‘The NHS Confederation supports the work by the DoH to develop a self-regulating code for advertising and marketing by NHS providers.
‘If we can better understand what patients want from the NHS, we can better deliver a service that meets those needs.
‘We anticipate that most marketing will be to GPs and commissioners of health services, rather than direct to patients themselves. Therefore, it is vital that NHS providers work closely with local practices to ensure that GP are well informed of the services they can provide to patients.’
But Dr Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA’s consultants’ committee said: ‘The government has created a market-based system to deliver health care which means the NHS is forced to compete against new private providers in delivering NHS services.
‘NHS hospitals will have no option but to invest in marketing tactics, such as advertising, if they are to survive against private firms who will already have large marketing budgets and considerable expertise in selling themselves.
‘It is a sad indictment of government policy to consider spending public money on advertising NHS services when hospitals are having to make cutbacks in patient care and compulsory redundancies in order to save money.’