Teething pains hit NHS oral health campaign for children

An attempt by NHS England to promote oral health in young children has suffered a setback after it emerged that Colgate-Palmolive, its commercial partner in the campaign, did not distribute promotional materials in time for this week's launch.

Materials such as this poster failed to arrive in time for the launch of the oral health campaign
Materials such as this poster failed to arrive in time for the launch of the oral health campaign

Thousands of pharmacies across the country had been instructed to take part in the new campaign.

It is one of six public health campaigns that have been agreed between the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) and NHS England as part of the community pharmacy contractual framework.

This means pharmacies have to take part, whether they want to or not.

Aimed at the parents and carers of children under five, the campaign’s core messages are that NHS dental checks are free for children and that all children should have been for a dental check-up by the time they are a year old.

The importance of helping children brush their teeth twice a day, that they need to be supervised until they’re about seven years old, and that cutting down on sugary food and drink is the best way to prevent tooth decay, are also key messages.

Pharmacies were supposed to have had the materials delivered from Colgate-Palmolive two weeks ago, which would include an A3 ‘Monster teeth’ poster produced by the company along with a range of supporting materials such as leaflets and brushing charts.

However, last Friday, just days before the launch, the PSNC issued an urgent alert that stated: "Colgate-Palmolive has advised that the distribution of their promotional materials for the NHS England children’s oral health campaign has been delayed; therefore community pharmacy contractors will now receive these materials week commencing 13 May 2019."

It added: "The NHS England community pharmacy oral health campaign is due to start on Monday 13 May 2019, which means contractors may not receive the promotional materials for the start of the campaign."

This has left pharmacies in a position of having to use old campaign materials by Public Health England or to delay starting the campaign until "the Colgate-Palmolive promotional materials arrive". 

The campaign will run until 13 June 2019 and coincides with National Smile Month.

At the time of writing, NHS England had not responded to requests by PRWeek for comment.

A PSNC spokesperson said that the organisation "has only had direct contact with NHS England about this campaign" and declined to comment further.

However, a spokesperson for Colgate-Palmolive said the campaign materials were completed last week and added: "Colgate-Palmolive are proud to support the campaign."

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