Government seeks to cut health campaigns

The Government plans to cut the share of its campaigns on health issues in a move aimed at channelling cash into frontline services.

The Government plans to cut the share of its campaigns on health issues in a move aimed at channelling cash into frontline services.

Ministers at the Department of Health are sceptical about whether they need to maintain the adspend of some of their high-profile campaigns and have asked officials to review whether the money would be better spent at a local level.

One minister said: 'Advertising has an important role to play, but it is not always the answer to have big campaigns. We are looking to see whether part of the budget could be switched to improving the delivery of services or small-scale local campaigns.'

Another reason for the change is Labour's sensitivity to criticism that it has adopted a 'Nanny State' mentality in which the Government is seen as 'preaching' to people. They are also worried that some high-profile campaigns on health issues could backfire.

One potential victim of the review is the campaign to combat drug misuse, which critics have said may glamourise drugs in the eyes of young people.

St Luke's won the account from Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters a year ago.

Although ministers may continue to promote the Government's National Drugs Helpline, the rethink may prevent it running a 'Say No' message in future campaigns.

The ad budget at the DoH has risen from pounds 2.27 million in the first year of the Labour Government to pounds 14.83 million in the 1999-2000 financial year. The Tories say the money would be better spent on improving the NHS.

Ministers have defended the spending boost, saying high-profile campaigns were needed on nursing recruitment, promoting the NHS Direct advice line and the MMR0 vaccine.

They say part of the budget rise was due to the DoH taking over campaigns which were previously run by the Health Education Authority.



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