The proposed NHS code of marketing has come under fire from the advertising industry and NHS communications professionals.

Both the Advertising Association and the Association of Healthcare Communicators have responded to the Department of Health consultation on the self-regulatory code of practice for promotion of NHS services by saying the new code would. duplicate work done by others.

The AHC branded the code as 'too prescriptive and bureaucratic'. It criticised the proposed secretariat, which would consider complaints, as its functions are already carried out by the Advertising Standards Authority and NHS complaints process.

AHC chair Nick Samuels said: 'There are so many mechanisms that hold the NHS to account already. Creating a new one is counter to the current direction of travel of policy.'

Advertising Association senior public affairs manager Jim Rothwell said: 'Our principle concern is that NHS bodies do not end up paying twice for the same service.'