Karen Caines, director, Institute of Health Services Management

Favourite film - Bringing up Baby: 'Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant in a crazy comedy. What other film has a dinosaur, a pet leopard and Hepburn at her best?'

'Personally, I loathe Bruce Willis-type action films, but I am sure there would be a place for them. I like lots of funny or romantic films like Four Weddings and a Funeral, Sleepless in Seattle, Heartburn and When Harry met Sally, plus films such as The Lion King for younger children. And, in a more adult mode, Neil Jordan's superb The Crying Game and Quentin Tarantino's stylish Pulp Fiction.

'I am not sure there are films that should never be shown to patients in hospital, although I guess there may be some sensitivities about death and bereavement. So, The Philadelphia Story but not Philadelphia, perhaps? But, personally, I think everything is potentially OK as long as the film rating is clear and the contents explicitly described.

'Airlines manage to cater for a broad, though admittedly different, audience. I think it is an excellent idea to show films in hospital, to provide distraction, entertainment, amusement and engagement. My only doubt is how many patients in hospital today would be fit enough to go into a cinema. The idea is probably likely to be more useful to patients undergoing dialysis or other treatments, long-stay children and adults and psychiatric patients.'

June Andrews, Scottish board secretary, Royal College of Nursing

Favourite film - Braveheart: 'What a laugh.'

'Films should be shown in hospital cinemas because they are fun, and watching them on TV in a busy ward or dayroom is not the same. You can lose all your cares in a darkened cinema and lose track of time and personal worries. You can hold hands in the dark with someone, without having to talk. All patients who like films could benefit and people should be able to see what they want.'

Andy Carver, research manager, Scottish Association of Local Health Councils

Favourite film - It's a Wonderful Life: 'Classic film starring James Stewart.'

'The above would be good to show in hospital, along with any of the Carry On films. There is good evidence that laughter can improve people's mood, though the staff may hate some of the sexual stereotyping of nurses.

'I would not recommend Coma, a horror film about people going into hospital for minor surgery. Someone switches the gas cylinders while they are under anaesthetic so they get carbon monoxide instead of oxygen. The patients are then removed to the basement until their internal organs can be harvested. This would not really reassure anyone who had to go to the operating theatre the next day.

'Similarly, Seven starring Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt, about a serial killer who indulges in increasingly horrendous ways of dispatching people, is probably not suitable for hospital viewing.

'Patients who would derive most benefit from a hospital cinema would include long-stay psychiatric patients, orthopaedic patients and elderly people. It's probably less important for short-stay acute patients.'

Wai-Yin Hatton, general manager, Ayrshire and Arran health board

Favourite film - Independence Day: 'Gripping story with a good ending.' Also fond of the 'action-packed' True Lies.

'All patients would benefit, as long as they had a choice whether or not to watch. Films would really break the monotony of a hospital stay. Films shown should have a happy ending and be sensitive to patients. Therefore I would not recommend films portraying illness or bereavement or any stress- related or stress-inducing films, so not Prince of Tides or Philadelphia.'

Keith Ford, chief executive, Mayday Healthcare trust, Croydon

Favourite film - Monty Python's Life of Brian

'I don't think it is a good idea to show films in hospital. I can't think of many patients who are well enough to leave their beds and go and sit in a cinema.

'If they are that well they ought to be discharged home. Having said that, we do see a number of people in pyjamas, in the shopping units and around the main entrance, so presumably watching a film would be possible in that sort of venue. But I would be worried about a darkened where there is no observation.

'If films were to be shown in hospitals, the sort that ought to be are ones with a fairly calming mood and definitely a happy ending - almost anything with Tom Hanks in it. I wouldn't think any horror movie would be appropriate for fairly obvious reasons of raised blood pressure and general lack of calming influence.

Michael Dixon, chair, NHS Primary Care Group Alliance

Favourite film - Casablanca: 'I have seen it many times - impossibly romantic and quite a feat as it was written as it went along.'

'Also Carry on Camping because it taught me two important lessons. I was eight and the film was a treat for the whole boarding school. At the point when Barbara Windsor bent over and burst her shorts, the maths master put his hand over the lens. Having stopped the film with the projector turned on, it began to melt and the projector finally exploded. We were all blamed and sent to bed.

'The lessons were, one: life is not fair, and, two: sex is a dangerous thing. Carry on Camping could be lethal on a coronary ward. Disaster and horror movies should be off the agenda and it is probably best to keep off any film with a medical element, especially Airplane, where the enthusiastic guitar player pulls the patient's drip out without noticing, or Carry On Doctor, where the whole surgical team is incapacitated by laughing gas. Films like Reach for the Sky where Douglas Bader showed what you could do without any legs could also be in poor taste.

'But I don't really think it is a good idea to show films in hospitals. It reinforces the passive role of the patient and, anyway, there is plenty of television and radio already. I feel it is important that patients get out of the 'medical model' and see themselves as an active part of their own treatment. Watching films is hardly doing this and is largely irrelevant.

'I would much rather that patients were encouraged to join a supportive group activity which contributed to their well-being - and perhaps they could contribute to the well-being of other members of the group. I witnessed this recently in Japan, where all the patients, including some who were pretty handicapped, were invited to a tai-chi exercise session every morning. The patients I spoke to said they felt much better after them.'

Judy Hargadon, chief executive, Barnet health authority

Favourite film - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: 'This film was a very important part of my growing up and understanding that the world was not as simple as I thought it was.'

'I think it is a good idea to show films in hospitals - they take people's minds off things and the patients who would benefit most would be those who have the time to worry, to fill in the time when they might otherwise be getting more anxious.

'I would probably not recommend my favourite film for showing in hospital. Escapist movies, such as the James Bond films, would probably go down well.'

Brian Potter, Scottish secretary, British Medical Association

Favourite film - Truly, Madly, Deeply: 'This encapsulates many of our feelings about loss and bereavement.'

'I think the idea of showing films in hospital is a good one. When you are in hospital, what strikes you is how slowly time passes.

'Patients who would benefit particularly would be those coming in for treatment such as chemotherapy who then also have to wait to find out how the treatment has gone.

'I would perhaps not recommend my favourite film for showing in hospital as the emotions of people in hospital are usually near the surface and it does not take much to make them tip over.'