Advertising mooted on NHS websites

The NHS could host commercial advertising on its website in the near future, a deputy director at the Department of Health said on Monday at a seminar held by CSW in conjunction with the Post Office.

By Civil Service World

07 Mar 2012

Speaking at the same event the head of the Behavioural Economics Team in the Cabinet Office, David Halpern, confirmed that his unit will continue past its original closure date of this October.

Rachel Neaman, the DH’s deputy director of digital, channel strategy and publishing, said: “We’re beginning to look at whether we [accept] advertising in the NHS. There’s a need to generate some revenue, and is that one way of doing it?”

She added: “On the whole, absolutely not and we could not use a trusted brand [the NHS] and associate that with commercial advertising – but times are changing and it is more difficult. At the moment, our subjective view is that we have a rigorous process to go through looking at what type of partner we want to be working with, but I don’t think there’s a one-size fits all.”

Asked by CSW what the timescale for considering advertising on NHS websites is, she said: “It won’t happen at the moment.” Rules set by the Government Digital Service insist that government websites cannot carry ads. However, CSW understands that the NHS could advertise on its website when the health service becomes managed by a commissioning board in 2013, rather than directly by the Department of Health.

Meanwhile, asked by CSW about the future of his unit, Halpern said: “We did have a discussion with permanent secretaries a week or two back and there’s a general demand for us to carry on… so we’ll carry on for a little while longer.” There has been a “positive choice to keep the thing going”, he added.

See our interview with Halpern.

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