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Ensuring light for all

Ensuring provision of adequate lighting for light-sensitive skin

Because of the intensity of UV light emitted by 'green' light bulbs they can have a detrimental effect on light sensitive skin and symptoms can include burns, rashes and migraine. 

Provision for those affected by light sensitivity disorders is not adequate across the UK and this, coupled with the EU wanting to replace all old incandescent light bulbs with the new green ones by 2011, means that people with certain skin conditions would be left completely in the dark.

In collaboration with the Skin Care Campaign – a UK umbrella organisation representing the interests of all people with skin conditions – and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin, Ash Healthcare developed a campaign to promote the provision of adequate  ighting for people with a light sensitivity.

The 'Light for All' campaign sought to promote the provision of adequate lighting for people with a light sensitivity, and to:
• Encourage all medical premises to include provision for light sensitive sufferers
• Develop a campaign to raise awareness of the detrimental effect 'green' light bulbs have on light sensitive skin
• Achieve government support to make green light bulbs suitable for light sensitive sufferers.

Two pronged approach:
1. Rather than 'naming and shaming' organisations because they failed to ensure adequate lighting, the campaign sought to highlight examples of best practice as a way of educating and informing others on steps that could be taken.
2. Use media pressure to encourage the UK government to take the campaign to the EU to promote the provision of lighting for people with light sensitivity.

The first stage was to establish the level of the problem faced by light sensitive sufferers in the UK through working in partnership with the XP Support Group and Lupus UK.

The survey, with response from 49 NHS Trusts, Sainsbury, Tesco and Waitrose, identified areas that could be held up as examples of UK best practice. 

A collection of the logos of various media outlets
National media outlined the campaign's key messages 

Communications activity
It is SCC policy to maintain a good relationship with all NHS Trusts and, in line with the agreed campaign strategy, Ash did not embark on a media campaign to 'expose' those trusts that performed poorly. Instead, Ash liaised with the communications departments of the top five to inform them of their 'rating' and explore opportunities to position them with the media as case studies for best practice.

For each of the top five trusts, Ash developed a separate news release which included quotes from the SCC and CEO of the trusts.

Public affairs
Late 2005, a parliamentary early day motion (EDM) was developed to raise awareness of the needs of people with a light sensitivity. The EDM was tabled by Rt Hon Bruce George, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Skin.

Background briefings continued until in May 2008 the APPGS met with the SCC, All Party Group on Lupus, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Health and Safety Executive. The adverse effect that the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs may have, not only on those with photosensitive skin conditions but also on other photosensitive conditions such as migraine, were discussed. Janet Dean MP, Joan Ruddock MP, minister for DEFRA and Ann Keen MP, Department of Health under-secretary attended.

To support public affairs activity, Ash has issued releases outlining MPs' involvement targeting the national media with case studies and positioning SCC spokespeople as expert commentators.

The Light for All campaign operated within a very limited budget with great results:
• 49 responses from NHS Trusts and three major supermarket chains
• Ongoing regional and national coverage over the campaign period including the BBC, The Independent, The Sun and The Daily Mail outlining the campaign's key messages
• Assurance from MPs that until the green light bulbs are safe for light sensitive skin, old type bulbs will be made available (this may be by prescription).

• At the meeting in May 2008, MPs  agreed to highlight the adverse effects that the EU recommendation to phase out incandescent light bulbs may have.
• In October 2008, the government's public health safety watchdog issued 'precautionary advice' on the levels of ultraviolet radiation that energy saving light bulbs emit at the request of patient groups.


Case study details

Client: Skin Care Campaign
Agency: Ash Healthcare
Campaign: Light for All
Timescale: June 2005 to October 2008

17th December 2009


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