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NHS Identity principles

The NHS is a complex system of organisations and services.  Ongoing developments to the way the NHS is structured and services are delivered means it is important that the new NHS Identity guidelines are flexible and adaptable.

Therefore, the new NHS Identity guidelines are based on six overarching principles.  These are designed to provide strategic direction and ensure all current and future decisions are consistent and that the interests and needs of patients and the public are considered first.

The NHS Identity principles have been developed following extensive engagement and testing with patients, the public and stakeholders.

Principle 1: When applying the NHS Identity, the interests and needs of patients and the public should always be considered first

Applications include:

  • Names of organisations must be clear and understandable.
  • Unnecessary jargon and technical language should be avoided.
  • Visual and written complexity must be removed as much as possible.
  • There needs to be transparency/clarity regarding who provides the service
  • Additional logos and graphics that confuse the public are not allowed.

Principle 2: The use of the NHS Identity must always provide the best value for taxpayers’ money

Applications include:

  • Consistency helps to save money and communicate the national single NHS standard of service.
  • Additional logos and graphics will not be allowed saving unnecessary expenditure.
  • Only applying the policy to new or updated materials as they are developed.

Principle 3: All applications of the NHS Identity should support the NHS values and the principles of the NHS Constitution

Applications include:

  • The NHS Identity is the visual representation of the NHS values and the standards that patients can expect.
  • Patients come first, every time.
  • Imagery must reflect the diverse communities we serve.
  • Quality of care includes quality of communications and accessibility.

Principle 4: All users have a duty to protect the NHS Identity

Applications include:

  • All users must respect and maintain the integrity of the NHS Identity.
  • Communications that damage or dilute the NHS Identity are not permissible.
  • Users have a responsibility to protect the trust built in the NHS Identity.
  • Additional logos or graphics that de-value the identity will not be allowed.

Principle 5: The NHS Identity is the single, clear way to signpost patients and the public to NHS organisations and services and should be used universally and consistently.

Applications include:

  • All services delivered on behalf of the NHS need to be clearly badged.
  • More consistency of communications and respect for the NHS Identity, less use of colour and additional graphics will help increase clarity for patients.
  • Communications can include localised elements, but these must not compete with or dilute the NHS Identity in any way.
  • Individual organisations need to put the interests of the whole NHS Identity first.

Principle 6: The NHS Identity cannot be used to generate profit unless there is a benefit to the NHS

Applications include:

  • Non-NHS organisations cannot use the NHS Identity to help promote or sell non-NHS services without permission from the NHS trade mark owner.
  • Benefits to the NHS can be wide ranging, for example financial and/or improvements to public health.
  • The NHS Identity cannot be used to endorse an external product or service without the permission of the trade mark owner.
  • Individuals cannot use the NHS Identity to raise their personal profile.
  • The NHS Identity cannot be used to mislead patients about their choices; it must never be used in a way that could suggest that a provider is their only choice.