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NHS chief defines ‘no-go’ boundary for injury lawyers

NHS chief executive David Nicholson says promotion of the services of personal injury lawyers on NHS premises should not be supported.

NHS chief executive David Nicholson says promotion of the services of personal injurylawyers on NHS premises should not be supported because it risks undermining the NHS’s relationship with, and responsibilities to patients.

Nicholson wrote a letter to the chief executives of all NHS Trusts and Primary Care Trust Clusters following a rise in media and parliamentary focus on advertising and promotion of the services of personal injury lawyers.

In the letter he reminded chief executives to be aware that the department’s “long¬standing” position on the matter was previously set out in a letter from the then chief executive and chief medical officer in 2004, and subsequently in the DH Estatecode Guidance in May 2007.

Nicholson said: “While we recognise the right of any individual or agency lawfully to promote their services, such activity in NHS premises, with the implied support of the NHS that it indicates, can undermine the relationship between NHS staff and their patients and therefore should not be supported.

“This includes any form of promotion of legal services including posters and leaflets. The inclusion of adverts alongside medical advice to patients is particularly unwelcome and has generated frequent letters of complaint frompatients and their MPs.

Nicholson said there have been recent references to the 2006 Compensation Act and suggestions that this permits such practices on NHS premises.

“In fact, the Compensation Act sought to regulate and constrain previously uncontrolled practices. It therefore introduced new regulations to prohibit such activity except where specifically authorised by the facility’s management.

“I am therefore asking NHS Trusts to review their current practices in the light of this advice. PCTs may also want to consider guidance that they provide to primary medical services contractors in their area,” he said.