The letters ‘NHS’ and the NHS logo are protected by law. They are UK trade marks owned by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and may not be produced without permission.
In addition, the Secretary of State owns the copyright in the NHS logo and reproduction without permission is similarly prohibited.
The term “NHS” is also protected by the Company, Limited Liability Partnership and Business Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2014 and no company can be incorporated with the letters without the express permission of the Department of Health and Social Care.
Therefore, the NHS letters and NHS logo cannot be used as part of the corporate identity of an organisation or their strapline, or as part of the name or logo of a particular initiative, without authorisation from the Department of Health and Social Care on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
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Suppliers of goods and services to the NHS
Suppliers of goods and services to the NHS cannot use the NHS logo or a local NHS organisation’s logo. This is to protect the NHS from being seen as:
- the source of information that has not originated from the NHS, or
- formally endorsing suppliers’ goods and services.
If suppliers want to promote the fact they have supplied goods or services to the NHS then they must explain it in plain text, in a purely descriptive manner. They must not use terminology which implies further involvement, such as approved, supported, endorsed, authorised or certified. Suppliers should use a colour other than blue for text, as people strongly associate it with the NHS.
Suppliers may use a photographic image of the goods they have supplied the NHS. Suppliers must have the permission of the relevant NHS organisation if the photograph includes an NHS organisational logo, or the permission of NHS England’s national communications team where the national NHS logo is used.
Suppliers of staff identification items and other NHS branded wares must comply with the guidelines for suppliers of NHS branded items.
The NHS or the Department of Health and Social Care cannot endorse or be seen as endorsing third party goods or services, regardless of if the third party has provided goods and services to the NHS or DHSC. Similarly, NHS staff members are not permitted to use their status as an NHS employee to endorse a third party in a private or professional capacity. Please refer to the NHS Identity principles.