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A&E poster by health chiefs in Brent is banned by advertising watchdog

PUBLISHED: 09:36 03 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:57 03 February 2016

The A&E poster has been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency

The A&E poster has been banned by the Advertising Standards Agency

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A poster by health chiefs in Brent telling residents they could only use Accident & Emergency departments for “life-threatening” cases has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Members of the Brent Patient Voices steering group L-R Robin Sharp, Irwin Van Colle, Lola Osikoya, Nan Tewari, Cllr Keith Perrin, Gaynor Lloyd, Iram Yakub, Maurice Hoffman.Members of the Brent Patient Voices steering group L-R Robin Sharp, Irwin Van Colle, Lola Osikoya, Nan Tewari, Cllr Keith Perrin, Gaynor Lloyd, Iram Yakub, Maurice Hoffman.

The advert by Brent Clinical Commissioning Group which aimed to discourage people from attending A&E departments unnecessarily has been deemed “misleading and potentially harmful” by the ASA.

Brent Patient Voice (BPV), which has more than 60 members representing patients in the borough, lodged a complaint with the ASA saying the claim by BCCG was untrue.

Robin Sharp, BPV chairman, told the Times: “It is vital that ads like these should be truthful. We regret that we had to take it so far, because we remain keen to work with NHS colleagues to improve services for the people of Brent.

“Most established residents would know the words were just not true, but some people in a diverse borough like Brent might take them literally with potentially disastrous consequences.

“Of course A&E is there for life-threatening emergencies, but is also there for serious conditions such as someone getting poked in the eye or breaking their ankle. Clearly you won’t die as a result, but you need treating in A&E, not an Urgent Care Centre or similar.”

He added: “A full page ad was put in Brent Magazine for everyone to see and that concerned us but they wouldn’t back down and that’s why we complained to the ASA.

“We are pleased that an independent national authority has agreed with our concerns.”

A BCCG spokesman said: “The ASA acknowledges that the intention behind our advertising campaign was to help support A&E staff to treat the most urgent cases as quickly as possible. Its ruling is based on a single complaint out of a total patient population of nearly one million.

“We offered to make an immediate adjustment to the original campaign slogan, removing the word ‘only’ from the phrase ‘A&E is for life-threatening emergencies only’ in order to accommodate the few non-life-threatening examples of A&E-relevant cases cited by the complainant. We also invited BPV to help us develop the campaign’s messages.

“As advised to the ASA, we were seeking to educate people who might consider going to A&E for situations which were non-life-threatening and who could be treated more appropriately elsewhere.”

Click here to see the full ruling by the ASA.

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