Guest blog by Nan Tewari (in personal capacity):
Last week the Advertising Standards bods issued a ruling telling Brent NHS CCG to buck its ideas up and stick to doctoring rather than spin doctoring.
OK, the ASA didn't actually say that but I do so wish it had! Last week that intrepid ferreter out of goings-on in Brent, Martin Francis, broke the story on Wembley Matters LINK, of the Advertising Standards Authority ruling against the 'A & E is only for life threatening emergencies 'posters.
Advertising is supposed to be accurate and advertisers of products and services have an obligation not to mislead. One wonders whether GPs have now joined the ranks of those estimable professionals of the estate agency and second-hand car sales' worlds (with apologies as always to the honourable exceptions).
Brent Patient Voice spent weeks corresponding with Brent NHS Clinical Commissioning Group when we first became aware of the posters emblazoned on hoardings and bus stops trying to persuade them to withdraw the misleading advert, to no avail. Of course, it is bad enough that BPV had to 'become aware' of the posters and that BCCG didn't even bother to consult with us before launching their poster campaign.
To try to give regular readers a succinct bit of context, the relationship of BPV with Brent NHS CCG is akin to that of Philip Grant with Brent Council – enough said.
We pointed out that BCCG's own advice on its website had been uncannily accurate in stating that A & E is for life threatening emergencies AND other serious conditions. A broken ankle isn't life threatening but I wouldn't hobble into an Urgent Care Centre with one; no siree, I'd take it straight to A & E even if I might have to wait more than 4 hours. So clearly A & E cannot accurately be said to be for life threatening emergencies ONLY, so even more clearly, some spin doctory type had done some spinning and come up with offending poster.
You may well ask why cash strapped BCCG would COMMISSION (ha ha) said posters. entailing design, printing and pots of glue to stick said posters up. Perhaps Transport for London was running a cut-price promotion on its bus stop hoardings and some clever COMMISSIONER at BCCG thought they could please their Department of Health masters by using public money to place the blame squarely on the public shoulder for the soi disant A & E crisis.
I say 'so called' crisis precisely because people presenting to A & E are assessed (triaged) at the front desk and then either treated by the on-site Urgent Care Centre or are referred through to the full A & E service, so for the most part, people are NOT accessing A & E in droves, inappropriately.
Anyway, the ASA rules and Brent NHS CCG makes contrite apology.......... well, in a parallel universe perhaps. Instead, BCCG writes off the entire episode as insignificant because - it arose out of ONE complaint. The fact that BPV has ELECTED patient reps on its committee counts for nothing. In fact, BCCG has a proud tradition of wanting to hand-pick the patients it prefers to talk to rather than being respectful of the wishes of Brent patients themselves who have elected their own reps which allows those reps to act independently without fear or favour.
Contrast the BCCG arrogance with the approach of South Worcester CCG whose spokesman said: “We welcome the findings from the Advertising Standards Agency”. [Ackn. Evesham Journal]
And finally, I leave you with news that BCCG's next advertising campaign will focus on ophthalmology, tackling colour blindness where BCCG hopes to persuade us that black is white.
In keeping with the tenets of this blog, herewith my Declarations of Interest -
Elected Co-chair of Harness Locality Patient Participation Group
Steering Group member of Brent Patient Voice (writing in a personal capacity)
A patient registered with a Brent GP practice
A very rare user of A & E (once falling over in school playground many moons ago)