NHS Charities Together apologises for making Santa ill

NHS Charities Together scraps ‘insensitive’ appeal advert and apologises for making Santa seriously ill ‘with Covid-19’ in it – after insisting it was never ‘aimed at children’

  • Emotional ad sees Father Christmas treated in hospital and cared for by nurses
  • Features dramatic opening as he’s wheeled in by paramedics as it’s touch and go
  • Over time regains his strength to go home – and thanks nurse with a special gift
  • Advert draws on children’s fears Santa will be unable to deliver gifts amid Covid 

NHS Charities Together has apologised for making Santa seriously ill ‘with Covid-19’ in a controversial appeal advert – adding it wasn’t ‘aimed at children’ and ‘hasn’t been shown on TV.’ 

The advert, which was met with a barrage of abuse before being scrapped from YouTube, shows Father Christmas rushed into hospital and nursed back to health.

But the film, entitled The Gift, features a dramatic opening, with a very poorly Santa wheeled into a medical ward by paramedics and given oxygen.

It appears to be touch and go, with machines beeping and staff in full PPE as they do their best to resuscitate the elderly gentleman.

And the advert, which is enough to give kids nightmares, has been met with an apology, with officials saying: ‘We are sorry to the parents of any young children who have been upset by watching the ad and to the young children themselves. They were not the intended audience for it.’

Father Christmas was rushed into hospital and nursed back to health in an emotional appeal advert from NHS Charities Together. The touching film, entitled The Gift, which celebrates NHS staff and volunteers, featured a dramatic opening, with a very poorly Santa wheeled into a medical ward by paramedics and given oxygen

Thankfully Santa pulled through and over the coming days was nursed back to health by the caring ward staff in the now scrapped advert

The advert, set to the track People Help The People by British singer Birdy, was posted as part of the Gifts That Give Back Campaign, where people are asked to send gifts to NHS staff after such a challenging year.

However, viewers interpreted the presence of oxygen masks and tubes as a sign that Santa was suffering from coronavirus – in a move branded ‘insensitive’ by concerned parents.

Several feared young viewers would be traumatised thinking Santa was going to die and urged the charity to let children enjoy the festive season ‘without giving them adult problems to deal with’. 

One person wrote: ‘The NHS have now hijacked Santa and given him Covid to raise money for their charity.  Someone thought this was a good idea. Guaranteed to scare little ones if they watch it. Disgusting idea that targets the fears of the very young.’ 

Another added: Are you so deluded on your own hype you can’t see how disgusting this is NHS? Advert should be removed immediately.’ A third simply wrote: ‘Low, very low.’ 

The advert, which was met with a barrage of abuse before being scrapped from YouTube, shows Father Christmas rushed into hospital and nursed back to health (pictured) 

Reaction: Viewers interpreted the presence of oxygen masks and tubes as a sign that Santa was suffering from coronavirus – in a move branded ‘insensitive’ by concerned parents

Another Twitter user blasted the advert as a ‘miscalculation’ writing: ‘This is disgusting. Don’t children have enough to worry about at the moment? What a dreadful, insensitive miscalculation on behalf of the NHS charity organisers.’ 

In the clip, Father Christmas thankfully pulls through and over the coming days is nursed back to health by the caring ward staff.

He’s seen helped gradually out of a wheelchair and guided around the hospital, and uses a mobility walker to get around in a later shot.

While he recuperates, he receives a get well soon card signed ‘Rudy’ – a sweet nod to his chief reindeer Rudolph.

At one point he passes a ward full of children, and is subsequently seen filling out paperwork surrounded by festive cards – presumably letters to Santa from hopeful little ones.

Father Christmas is seen being helped gradually out of a wheelchair and guided around the hospital by staff


Santa uses a mobility walker to get around in a later shot, and looks into a room full of children which appears to give him strength

Eventually he’s allowed to go home, and he makes his way gingerly out of the hospital, turning to wave at the nurses who cared for him.

In the final shot, the nurse who looked after him throughout receives a gift, with a note that reads: ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done for all of us,’ signed ‘Santa’ – and the true identity of her recent patient dawns on her. 

The advert draws on the fact children in the UK have been so concerned by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic that Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly reassured them that Santa would still be able to deliver presents this Christmas. 

It ends with the slogan: ‘Give back to those who’ve given everything.’ 

NHS Charities Together is a collective experience representing, supporting and championing the work of the NHS’ official charities.  

At one point he passes a ward full of children, and is subsequently seen filling out paperwork surrounded by festive cards – presumably letters to Santa from hopeful little ones

Eventually he’s allowed to go home, and he makes his way gingerly out of the hospital, turning to wave at the nurses who cared for him

In a social media post, the charity initially said: ‘We’re delighted to share our Christmas campaign and video, which has been made possible thanks to generous brand partners.

‘We adore the ad and dedicate it to all NHS workers who’ve given everything to care and keep us safe.’ 

CEO of NHS Charities Together, Ellie Norton said: ‘Hundreds of thousands of NHS staff will be working over Christmas and New Year. 

‘The public has responded magnificently so far to our appeal, helping us raise over £150million. But with the ongoing impact of Covid, the need is still there.’

NHS Charities give £1million a day to the NHS, providing vital funds to help the NHS do more. 

Through NHS Charities Together member charities collaborate on nationwide fundraising and advocacy campaigns, such as celebrating the NHS Birthday every year on 5th July with the NHS Big Tea.  


In the final shot, the nurse who looked after him throughout receives a gift, with a note that reads: ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done for all of us,’ signed ‘Santa’ – and the true identity of her recent patient dawns on her

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