NHS Prepares to Ban Personal Injury Firms from Hospitals
The Law Gazette in England report that the Department of Health will consult on changes to the NHS Standard Contract. It includes a ban on personal injury firms advertising in hospitals.
For example, in a local hospital like Preston Accident and Emergency it’s not too difficult to find claims management companies advertising legal services. These can be found on billboards near waiting rooms and cafes. Admittedly, there are many of these law firms advertising. By all accounts some trusts in England allow quite a lot of firms to advertise. It depends on the NHS Trust. In some cases none at all.
These proposed changes will mean NHS trusts can no longer enter agreements. These agreements involve ‘law firms’ advertising their services in hospitals. But isn’t this plan a little excessive considering that actually it’s quite rare for ‘law firms’ to advertise inside A&E’s? As we’ve pointed out above not all trusts allow businesses to advertise, and it depends on the trust.
The issue has caused controversy for the past decade. Critics say it encourages firms touting for business to target vulnerable people with aggressive techniques.
Personally, advertising in a hospital is something we have never done, and never will. A problem is that the media is incorrectly reporting on the issue. First of all, the majority of adverts you will see in hospitals tend to come from Claims Management Companies or CMCs. This are NOT law practices. They are lead generators which find cases and pass them to law firms. This argument from critics that ‘aggressive techniques’ are used, basically is a fabrication of the truth. 99% of these marketing agencies advertising on behalf of CMC’s consequently do it on a board on a wall. There are no sales reps pestering people in accident and emergency wards and theatres.
Yet, Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the health service wants ‘lawyers out of hospital’. Mr Stevens needs to research this issue carefully because we are not aware of lawyers touting for business inside hospitals. It just isn’t true.
Furthermore Health Minister Jeremy Hunt recently said: ‘I’m concerned that the presence of personal injury law firms in the NHS, some of whom are pursuing aggressive tactics, is distracting staff. That’s why I’ve asked to take action to stop it.’
Again, it’s highly unlikely that most of these alleged lawyers advertising in law firms are actually lawyers – they will be claims management companies.
Finally, following consultation Jeremy Hunt plans on bringing in the ban later this year.