There is mounting pressure to introduce a system for vetting information leaflets in GP surgeries after it emerged many are sponsored by big brands or contain large amounts of advertising.

The Department of Health is looking into kitemarking organisations that provide health and social care information.

South London GP and Royal College of Physicians chair of ethics Dr Clare Gerada said doctors may not be aware of sponsorship information in leaflets in waiting rooms, which were seen by patients 'when they're at their most vulnerable'. She was in favour of an accreditation scheme and a possible code of conduct for GPs and primary care trusts.

NHS Alliance chief officer Michael Sobanja said: 'It is extremely important patients get good quality information about health and health services so it has got to be accredited in some way.'

But he added that most people would be able to spot product plugs and advertising.