Page last updated at 08:46 GMT, Saturday, 19 September 2009 09:46 UK

Row over NHS ban on claims ads

Advert on the NHS leaflet
Edwina Hart has told Welsh hospitals to drop adverts like these

A ban on advertising personal injury compensation claim firms on leaflets handed out by the NHS in Wales should be lifted says a trade body.

Health Minister Edwina Hart wants no such adverts on patient literature.

But the Claims Standard Council (CSC) said it may cost £1m to alter contracts between the firms and NHS trusts which was an "arrogant use of public money".

But the assembly government said it did not expect contracts to be broken by NHS trusts to conform to the ban.

Ms Hart this week said she was "disappointed" Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales (UHW) was still using leaflets with adverts from a personal injury firm.

She said she had written to all NHS trusts asking them to stop such advertising.

The CSC is the trade body representing BOE/Asyst, the company whose advertising prompted Ms Hart's decision.

Policy director Andrew Wigmore said BOE/Asyst had worked for than 20 years "providing a crucial service to help mitigate clinical risk" in the health service.

He said: "I think Edwina Hart's ignorance on this issue is breathtaking, she has directly put in jeopardy the right of her constituents to obtain access to justice by banning this service, her actions are fundamentally detrimental to the consumer.

"More importantly she thinks that £1m of NHS money is worth spending on challenging BOE/Asyst contracts - this is an arrogant use of public of public money of monumental proportions."

'Not renewed'

Owen Burrows, for BOE, said: "We are saddened that she does not see the value of our services and cannot see that forcing the NHS trusts to breach their contracts would cost thousands of pounds - money that should be used for more important things than banning legitimate contracted legal services advertising."

In response, a Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said: "Such intemperate language from a professional organisation is to be regretted.

"The health minister was responding to concerns from fellow Assembly Members and MPs whose constituents felt strongly that it is highly inappropriate to advertise these services on NHS premises.

"As long ago as March 2008, the minister indicated that patient information leaflets featuring such adverts should be removed as soon as practically possible without incurring financial penalties.

"There was never an expectation that NHS organisations would break any contracts - rather that any contracts already in place should not be renewed.

'Proper investigations'

"It is unhelpful and misleading to suggest people will be missing out on accessing information about such companies when it is freely available from numerous other sources, including newspapers and television."

"The issue is not linked to clinical negligence in the NHS and in no way are we seeking to prevent people claiming what they are rightly entitled to if a hospital is at fault.

"Indeed, the work of the Putting Things Right Project and the NHS Redress Measure 2008 are clear indications that the minister has every intention of ensuring that people are treated fairly and openly, that there will be proper investigations and that people will receive compensation, as part of a package of remedies, where appropriate."



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SEE ALSO
Fear over NHS compensation scale
14 Aug 09 |  Wales
Injury firms 'targeting' patients
12 Apr 05 |  Derbyshire
Compensation culture 'urban myth'
28 May 04 |  UK Politics
UK 'now has compensation culture'
18 May 04 |  Business
CBI tackles compensation culture
03 Mar 03 |  Business

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