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The NHS could save£4m a year by cutting recruitment advertising in national newspapers, according to the NHS efficiency taskforce.

The claim follows publication of a report by a working group, headed by Lionel Joyce, chief executive of Newcastle City Healthcare trust, which puts forward an eight-point plan to reduce the estimated£30m the NHS spends on recruitment each year.

NHS finance director Colin Reeves has sent a copy of the report to health authority and trust chairs, stating that 'it simply does not make sense for the NHS to be spending more than it needs on advertising jobs, money which could be better used for patient care'.

He says ministers have asked the NHS Executive to monitor advertising patterns over the coming months to keep them informed of 'compliance with these new guidelines'.

The working group's recommendations include a move towards electronic advertising over the next five to 10 years.

But it also says there should be 'a strong presumption in favour of the health journals over the national press and non-health journals'.

The report says that vacancies should not be advertised in the national press unless 'there is a very clear business case confirming that this represents better value for money than advertising through health journals'.

The working group quotes advertising rates of£49,140 for a full page in The Times or Sunday Times and more than£12,000 for a quarter page.

The working party also recommends the re-launch of the Audit Commission report Finders Keepers, because 'there is much in this report which provides a solid base for local action on wastage and turnover'.