Watchdog attacks ‘disjointed’ campaign

Local healthcare trusts have wasted £5.5m on a series of disjointed branding and marketing initiatives to encourage young people to be tested for chlamydia, according to a report by the public spending watchdog.

A damning report published last week by the National Audit Office (NAO) assessed the Government’s National Chlamydia Screening Programme, concluding that national or regionalised campaigns would have been more effective.

Instead, primary care trusts (PCTs) have generally worked in isolation, creating “at least 45 different brand identities” in addition to nationally branded patient information leaflets, posters and websites. This had caused the messaging to become diluted and confused, and wasted money, the report says.

Since the screening programme was launched in 2003, £5.5m has been spent by PCTs on localised campaigns to promote it.
However, six years on, testing levels have only just begun to reach the stage where, with resulting treatment, they are likely to reduce the prevalence of the sexually transmitted disease.

Next year, the Government plans to launch a national campaign for the screening programme, with the NAO advising that the Department of Health “should consider ways in which the message about chlamydia testing can be reinforced nationally while ensuring that consistent messages are delivered locally”.

The Government decided against a national campaign in 2003 because it felt that it was inappropriate to encourage young people to seek out testing before testing services were in place throughout the country.

The DoH declined to comment on the cost of local campaigns, though it did confirm there would be a new communication strategy for sexual health and teenage pregnancy, one strand of which will focus on encouraging the acceptance of a chlamydia test when it is offered. “A number of agencies are working on the project, including VCCP,” the spokeswoman adds.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here