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General Election purdah advice from NHS Providers

NHS Providers has published a briefing for NHS Foundation Trusts and Trusts in the pre-election period known as ‘purdah’, which begins on November 6 as Parliament dissolves.


The briefing highlights the practical implications around provider activities. It also covers the requirements on central and local government, the civil service and arm’s length bodies during purdah to maintain political impartiality in carrying out their public duties and ensuring that public resources are not used for the purposes of political parties or campaign groups.


The term ‘purdah’ is used across central and local governments to describe the period of time immediately before elections or referendums when specific restrictions on the activity of civil servants and local government officials, where appropriate, are in place. The term pre-election period is also used synonymously with purdah.

Purdah prevents announcements from and activities by public bodies which could influence or be seen to influence the election. Purdah officially applies until the day following the general election (December 13 in this case assuming a majority is secured and a new government can be formed), but effectively applies during any period of negotiation around the formation of a government.


Key principles

• No activity should be undertaken which could be considered politically controversial or influential, which could compete for public attention or which could be identified with a party/candidate/designated campaign group.

• Would you do the same for everyone? NHS providers have discretion in their approach, but must be able to demonstrate the same approach for every political party, official candidate and designated campaign groups. This is to avoid allegations of bias or pre-judging the electorate, and to ensure you will be able to form a constructive relationship with whoever wins the seat

The NHS may be under the media spotlight, locally and nationally. It is advisable to have a plan in place, including how the organisation will manage the purdah periods (with both its risks and its opportunities), and the potential for the organisation or its partners to be singled out in the media.


A full briefing for rules and regulations for NHS Foundation Trusts and Trusts during purdah is available to download from the NHS Providers website. Click here to be redirected.