Santa in NHS Christmas advert

NHS Christmas advert: Charities Together responds to backlash over controversial Santa ad

The ad was branded "disgusting" by some people

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NHS Charities Together has defended its Christmas advert which appeared to feature Santa in hospital.

The ad, titled The Gift, starts by showing an old bearded man unconscious in hospital as doctors and nurses try and save him.

It then shows the man waking up with oxygen tubes attached to his face.

Santa in NHS Christmas advert
NHS Charities Together has defended its Christmas advert which featured Santa in hospital (Credit: YouTube/NHS Charities Together)

What happens in the NHS Christmas advert?

A nurse, wearing a mask, then asks: “How are you feeling?”

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The advert goes on to show the man’s recovery as nurses and doctors help him eat and walk.

He’s then seen sitting in his hospital bed going through the naughty and nice lists.

Santa in NHS Christmas advert
Doctors and nurses helped Santa recover (Credit: YouTube/NHS Charities Together)

As a nurse comes in to deliver him some water, she says: “Ooh, someone’s popular.”

He eventually leaves hospital following his recovery as the staff wish him a happy Christmas.

The advert ends with the nurse receiving a present which read: “Thank you for everything you’ve done for all of us, Santa.”

She then realises the man she treated was Santa Claus.

The advert received a mix response online, with some saying it wasn’t suitable for children.

Santa in NHS Christmas advert
Santa with his naughty and nice Christmas lists (Credit: YouTube/NHS Charities Together)

What did critics say about the advert?

One wrote on Twitter: “This is absolutely disgusting… how dare they use Santa and scare the kids like that?”

Another said: “The NHS ad shows Santa hospitalised with Covid???? I’m sorry but that’s a bit…”

Denise Welch even wrote: “Disgraceful. How dare they.”

However, some people liked the advert as one tweeted: “Am I missing something here? We are now BASHING the NHS for releasing an advert where they save Christmas for kids by nursing Santa back to health!?

“I don’t get all of the comments of how disgusting it is – I thought it was sweet.”

NHS Charities Together has now released a statement.

It read: “We created our Christmas campaign to highlight the ongoing commitment and hard work of NHS staff and volunteers to keep us safe and well in what has been and continues to be a really challenging time for the NHS.

“We are really grateful that through the support of our partners we were able to create a film to get that point across.

“And to encourage people to keep supporting NHS staff, patients and volunteers by generating donations to our appeal.

Santa in NHS Christmas advert
The nurse received a present from Santa (Credit: YouTube/NHS Charities Together)

NHS’ statement

“When we launched the ad earlier in the week, we had an overwhelmingly positive response to it.

“Some subsequent media coverage of it has generated criticism of the ad on social media and some people have expressed their concern about it upsetting children.

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“The ad has been made to engage charity supporters and those who may want to buy products that generate donations to the appeal.

“It isn’t aimed at children and hasn’t been shown on TV. The charity did not put any funds into the production of the ad.

“We worked closely with the team behind the ad to make sure it was produced responsibly and it was cleared for use by the relevant regulatory authority.

“However, we are sorry to the parents of any young children who have been upset by watching the ad and to the young children themselves, they were not the intended audience for it.”

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