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Can an NHS organisation sell advertising space to generate income?

Some NHS organisations sell advertising space to generate additional income (e.g. external and internal poster sites and adverts in Trust magazines).

While not strictly an NHS Identity issue, it is important that advertising does not damage the good reputation of the NHS or the value of the NHS brand. It should not dominate NHS materials, which could confuse people about the source of those materials.

Any advertising should:

  • be suitable for the target audience
  • meet public expectations of the NHS brand and support the principles and values underpinning the NHS Identity
  • not bring the NHS into disrepute
  • not give rise to doubts about the integrity, independence or impartiality of the NHS
  • follow applicable laws and industry codes of practice.

All advertising must be distinct from editorial content so that it is clear to the audience that it is a commercial message. Advertising must not include any endorsement by the NHS.

The following categories of advertising are prohibited:

  • advertising for faith, religion and equivalent systems of belief
  • advertising for adult products and services
  • advertising for tobacco products
  • advertising for weapons and gun clubs
  • political or lobby group advertising
  • any advertisements that relate to a controversial health issue or public policy (e.g. foods with a high sugar content).

Advertising must not be misleading, harmful or offensive. It must not contain anything that is likely to result in physical, mental or moral harm, contain profane language or seek to exploit children’s credulity, loyalty, vulnerability or lack of experience.