NHS Charities Together defends controversial Christmas advert showing Santa unconscious in hospital

Organisation apologises to parents of young children upset by the film

Sarah Young
Sunday 13 December 2020 19:31 GMT
NHS Charities Together defends Christmas advert featuring sick Santa Claus in hospital
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NHS Charities Together has defended its Christmas advert after it was criticised on social media for showing Santa unconscious in hospital.

The film, titled “The Gift”, depicts an elderly bearded man being rushed into hospital as doctors and nurses, who are wearing PPE, attempt to revive him.

The man can then be seen waking up with oxygen tubes attached to his face as a nurse asks: “How you feeling?”

With the help of the nurse, the man slowly begins to recover, as he starts to walk again with the help of a walking frame.

He also receives a get well soon card from his head reindeer “Rudy” and spends time sorting through a pile of letters addressed to Santa.

Later on in the clip, the man has been nursed back full health and is revealed to be Father Christmas when the nurse who looked after him receives a gift, which reads: “Thank you for everything you’ve done for all of us, Santa”.

The advert, which was meant to pay tribute to the NHS staff who worked on the front line during the coronavirus pandemic, has been condemned by viewers online.

While some described it as “disturbing” and “insensitive”, others feared it would leave children “traumatised”.

Images of a poorly Mr Claus have not gone down well on social media (YouTube/NHS Charities Together)

“Someone thought this was a good idea. Guaranteed to scare the hell out of little ones if they watch it,” one person wrote.

Another added: “Has anyone seen the NHS ad that is treating Santa Claus for covid ????? Are you joking here!!!! You’ve taken their education away now you wanna take their innocence?? Do me a favour.”

A third person commented: “How many children are going to be brought to tears thinking Santa is going to die?”

A masked Santa is seen recuperating in the advert (NHS Charities Together)

Following the criticism, NHS Charities Together has spoken out to defend the short film.

“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,” it said in a statement.

“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.

“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.”

The charity went on to state that the advert was not intended for children and apologised to any parents it may have upset.

“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,” the charity said.

“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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