The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against the direct mail advertisement for Barclays Bank Hospital Cash Plan Premier Cover, underwritten by Royal and SunAlliance.
The ASA judged that information on the advertising was misleading to consumers.
The complaint was brought to the ASA by The Good Doctor, a new organisation established to supply health information to the public. Its main focus is appropriate medical procedures, hospitals and medical consultants.
In the complaint, it was alleged that the advertisement suggested that a patient who had suffered a “small stroke” would be able to claim £1,400.
But the Good Doctor calculated that a claimant would typically be hospitalised for five days for this condition and would only be able to claim £400.
The ASA carried out inquiries into the length of hospital stays for stroke victims in making its decision. It ultimately accepted that the statistics presented to it by the Good Doctor were more accurate than the 15 day hospital stay that Barclays claimed was usual for the victim of small stroke.
“We considered the advertising to be misleading. The presumption put in the minds of potential clients is that long hospital stays, and the examples in the sales literature, are typical,” said Michael Milner, Good Doctor director.
“The truth is that hospital stays are now mostly very short indeed and increasingly day surgery has taken over.”
And he added: “As part of our role in meeting the growing demand by discerning customers for genuinely independent, well-researched healthcare information, we aim to expose misleading claims that either cause healthcare consumers unwarranted expense or unnecessary worry.
But Barclays Bank expressed concern at the ASA’s ruling. “We do not believe that customers could have been misled as to the type of benefits available under our Hospital Cash Plan,” said a Barclays spokesperson.
“The example used was for illustration purposes only and full details of the policy benefits were clearly stated in the marketing material.”
However, the bank said that in the light of the decision, the material was to be suitably adjusted.