A new report has revealed that NHS hospitals were ordered to change their logo despite warnings over the expense of such a policy.
All NHS hospitals have been instructed to alter publicity materials, moving the NHS logo to a position of above the name of the trust, as opposed to perpendicular to it.
Patients groups have strongly opposed this rather petty regulation, with many prominent NHS observers concerned about the squandering of resources in the middle of a massive financial crisis.
Yet the policy is pushing forward, with an NHS identity team tasked with implementing it following a two-year review.
Health officials claim that the changes will reduce confusion and concern among the general public, stating that inconsistencies in the utilisation of the format can have a negative impact on the existing pressure in Accident and Emergency units.
But research has also indicated that health officials have repeatedly warned that trusts cannot afford to make such changes, and that the sums required are simply unjustifiable.
Eighty trust chief executives, public relations officials and senior staff from primary care services were interviewed in order to collate the most relevant information possible, while nine workshops were also held with 100 communication staff.
And the resulting report concludes that both the timing and cost of this policy can be considered regrettable.
“Timing and costs were generally seen as a challenge. For some organisations, the sheer number of signs and communications that would need to be changed was daunting, and participants questioned how they could justify the expense at a time when the NHS faced funding difficulties.”
The new guidance informs NHS organisations to make alterations to online publications in the next 12 months, while physical signs must also be altered when feasible.
But NHS chief executives and communications staff have commented that changing logos on such a widespread scale will only cause confusion and inconsistency.
Responding to the policy, Jonathan Ashworth, shadow health secretary, was seriously critical of the decision and the government.
“This beggars belief. Jeremy Hunt really needs to get a grip. At a time when services are being cut and treatments delayed, people tightly want to know that every last penny is being spent improving patient care. It’s not the time to be rearranging signs or spending a fortune on new logos. Taxpayers deserve better than this.”
But a spokesman defended the new initiative, suggesting that it was important for the future branding of the healthcare service.
“The NHS is one of the country’s most recognised and trusted brands but in the 17 years since it was last assessed some NHS organisations have spent money on logos and brands that do not look consistent. To minimise costs, the decision was taken not to order NHS organisations to adopt the revised logo but to phase it in as stationery runs out or signs need replacing.”