By Kirsty Topping
HEALTH chiefs have spent nearly half a million pounds on star-studded films, official figures have revealed.
And shockingly some of the movies last mere seconds, despite costing thousands to make.
Free DVDs provide a range of information for patents, such as a guide for mums-to-be to avoid drinking and advice on oral health for prisoners.
A freedom of information request revealed that seven of the country’s 14 health boards racked up a bill of more than £420,000 in the last five years. Others had either not spent a penny or were unable to provide figures.
Scotland’s health watchdog has slammed the spending, saying the money should be used to recruit nurses instead.
More than 75% of the money was spent by just two health boards. Between them, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and NHS Lanarkshire racked up a bill of more than £320,000.
Health chiefs in Lanarkshire stumped up £84,000 for a film about pregnancy called the Big Bump, starring TV personalities Sarah Heaney, Jane Tobias and Susie Maguire.
But they refused to reveal how much each of the stars had been paid to feature in the film.
They were also responsible for a film telling prisoners how to take care of their teeth, which cost £1500 to make.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde splashed £150,000 on films featuring comedienne Dorothy Paul, radio host Des McLean and actor Raymond Mearns over the last five years but claims that all of the stars gave their time for free.
NHS Tayside spent £10,275 on a two minute film which showed in shopping centres in 2008.
While NHS Highlands made a 31 second film entitled Watch your Waistline which cost £3847, or £124 a second.
The board used the same company, LBVTV, to make another film, entitled Drink Sensibly, which ran to just 40 seconds.
Margaret Watt of Scotland’s Patent Association said: “The idea of informing people about health issues is fine, but we are living in austere times.
“How many nurses could be paid a salary for the money they spend on these films?
“I don’t think we need to spend thousands saying drinking while pregnant is wrong. Surely everyone knows that.”
Some of the costs of the films were met by other NHS departments and external bodies.
A spokesman for NHS Lanarkshire said: “We aim to provide and accessible, user-friendly resource that enhances the information given by heath professionals.
“The idea for the Big Bump came from the results of a focus group involving pregnant women.
“The feedback we have received has been very positive.
But one young mum who watched the DVD said is covered things she already knew.
Katia Ratta, 31, from Hamilton, said: “On my fiorst ante-natal appointment I was given the Big Bump DVD.
“I watched it but was already aware of all he things it covered. Surely most people are.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde director of public health Linda de Caestecker said: “One of our Key objectives is to promote a good understanding of health matters.”
NHS SPENDING ON FILMS SINCE 2006
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde £150,452.75
Others had either not spent a penny or were unable to provide figures.