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NHS Wasting Public Monies

Monday, January 19th, 2009 NHS Wasting Public Monies

The taxpayer has forked out £90,000 for the National Health service to waste money on celebrities to front public health campaigns, over the last twelve months, it has been claimed

The money, paid for specifically seven famous faces and they are as follows: Former Page three girl Melissa Messenger, the Bill actor Gary Lucy, Model Donna Air. All will publicise messages about healthy eating, smoking cessation and breast-feeding.

Other celebrities were paid out of the public purse include Gemma Bissix (actress), and Sian Reeves, former Atomic Kitten singer Jenny Frost and psychologist and TV presenter Professor Tanya Byron.

Notwithstanding, the DOH have refused to confirm details of who has been paid what on the basis that future names would be deterred from coming forward with regards any other so called health promotions.

According to the Mail the partial disclosure obtained was the result of a request from the freedom of information being turned down. This has angered some politicians, who argue taxpayers’ money is being used to boost celebrities’ careers.

The DOH have confirmed that other other drives not fronted by famous faces, such as the alcohol-awareness campaign Know Your Units, anti-drugs drive FRANK, and the HPV vaccine promotion, have all been highly successful.

Furthermore, other well-known personalities, including Sir Michael Parkinson, comedian Harry Hill and children’s author Dame Jacqueline Wilson, were not paid for their part in Government health campaigns.

Norman Lamb of the Liberal Democrats has written to Health secretary Alan Johnson, demanding a complete details of all fees paid to the given celebrities.

He further adds that any deal to pay stars using taxpayers’ cash should include a clause making it clear that the fees would be made public.

‘It is highly questionable paying celebrities who may well gain enormous benefit themselves out of the positive associations with public-health messages,’ he added.

‘They do often reach parts that politicians can’t but some very well-known individuals have been happy to do the publicity for free.’

It has been identified that the government have run up to ten public campaigns over the past twelve months. The important issue is that five of those campaigns were directly fronted by five celebrities. The type of work expected was that of posing for pictures, interviews and the appearance in posters, television and online adverts.

With reference to the Mial report Melinda Messenger posed for publicity shots for the £500,000 Five-A-Day fruit and veg campaign with her daughter Evie, five, while new mother Jenny Frost made several personal appearances to promote breastfeeding.

Donna Air also helped to launch a campaign giving advice on how to limit the spread of colds and flu.

Gary Lucy recorded smoking diaries for the Government’s £43million Smokefree campaign along with Hollyoaks actress Gemma Bissix and Cutting It star Sian Reeves.

Others paid for their work include House Of Tiny Tearaways presenter Professor Byron for the Change 4 Life obesity drive.

The total fees represented about 0.09 per cent of the £95.9million spent on campaigns this year, health officials said.

In addition, last year, Alesha Dixon posed in a bath full of condoms for an unspecified fee. However, this amount is not included in the 2008/09 totals as she was paid during the previous financial year.

Finally Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said the cost of paying for public figures to help get a message across could be justified by the impact it achieved.

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