Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Advertising Cancer Infects NHS

Yes, you read it right. Now that we have 'choice' in what hospitals we consume (sorry, 'use'), Merseyside NHS hospitals are going to start flaunting their wares in public spaces, in a bid to make you choose Southport General over the Royal Liverpool or whatever. Of course, as with any business, the money spent on advertising will not be available for wages or the actual services. And in hospitals, the services are quite important.

The Capio healthcare 'chain', which has 'franchises' in Ormskirk and Liverpool, has been using advertising since it was established , in a bid to woo rich people who can afford better treatment away from the NHS. Though it clearly isn't fair that some people can buy better health care, at least it took pressure off services for the rest of us. Now NHS hospitals are going to compete with EACH OTHER for customers (or sick people as they used to be known).

Since the government has set up an internal market within the NHS, hospital chiefs say they have no choice but to promote themselves to keep patient numbers – and funding – up. A national NHS marketing code WILL NOT put a limit on the amount of money hospitals can spend, but it is expected to say 'disproportionate' expenditure could affect the reputation of the NHS.

In other words, the government don't want working class people to think that advertising is a waste of money, even though it is!

Sheilah Finnegan of the Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust said the organisation had set up a body to look at patient advertising.

"In common with most Trusts across the country, because of the new era of patient choice and payment by results, we have had to look at how we can ensure that patients are given reliable information about our services so that they can make informed choices.

"We have always produced information for patients in the form of general leaflets about the hospital services and specific leaflets about specific treatments and procedures.

"We are now looking at how these can be enhanced to focus on issues that are important to our patients, such as promoting our excellent record on safety and cleanliness."

A spokesman for the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospital's NHS Trust said: "The trust has a new director of communications who is currently reviewing a range of marketing and advertising operations and budgets for the organisation."

Working people, especially hospital staff, must take action against this appalling waste of money. It is in all our interests that we don't let the government get away with destroying the health care we all rely on.
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