Abortion row halts adverts in hospital

thisisoxfordshire: Anne Scanlan Anne Scanlan

ADVERTISING in part of Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital has been scrapped after a query about use of noticeboards by abortion campaigners.

NHS managers said a query about advertising by those on both sides of the argument caused a re-think that led to a decision to stop all advertising.

But they would not comment on why it took the decision to axe a 15-year-old deal with advertising firm Premier Concepts for its entrance noticeboard.

A pro-life charity which has advertised at the hospital for 24 years and recently hit headlines for advice given to undercover reporters criticised the decision.

Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust spokeswoman Alison Barnes said: “The trust received a Freedom of Information request listing questions on the issue of ‘paid for’ advertising, and on the issue of adverts from anti-abortion organisations.

“This prompted an internal discussion around this issue and it was agreed to undertake a review of the current arrangements regarding ‘paid for’ advertising.

“Premier Concepts, which supplied adverts for a noticeboard in the main entrance corridor of the hospital, was informed that the trust would no longer accept ‘paid for’ adverts.

“A decision has been taken to cancel the overall contract with Premier Concepts.”

All adverts brought in about £1,000 a year for the trust.

But Anne Scanlan, of anti-abortion charity Life, said: “This single complaint from this mystery person about one advertisement must have been so grave that the hospital took the extreme step of refusing all ‘paid-for’ adverts, denying itself thousands of pounds in revenue every year.

“After displaying Life’s advertisement for 24 years, not only should the hospital provide an explanation to Life of its action, but also to taxpayers, who must be interested to hear of valid reasons for the hospital to refuse significant sources of income.

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“What is of greater concern is the fact women who could benefit from our free professional non-directive services are being denied an opportunity to be made aware of those services.

“The absence of a full explanation leaves us feeling that this NHS institution is not only taking discriminatory actions against Life because it is a pro-life organisation, but is also planning to deprive local people of other useful information.”

The charity was last week criticised over advice given by a counsellor to a woman working undercover for sexual health charity Brooks, who was recor-ded claiming there was evidence of breast cancer being suffered by women who had abortions.

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