Entertainment & Arts

Maxine Peake: Actress hits back over NHS ad 'hypocrisy' claim

Maxine Peake
Image caption Maxine Peake thanked the Mail on Sunday for letting her highlight a "life-changing" charity

Actress Maxine Peake has rejected an accusation of hypocrisy for being paid to voice an NHS recruitment advert.

The Silk star was responding to a Mail on Sunday story that drew attention to the fact she had previously voiced fears about government health funding.

In the article, Conservative MP Simon Hart said she was "hypocritical".

Peake said her fee wouldn't have gone back to the NHS if she had returned it, and that she donated it to The Salford Foundation Trust children's charity.

"I was not employed by the NHS, but by an advertising agency who hold a pre-agreed budget of the whole of the campaign," the Salford-based actress and playwright wrote on Twitter.

"If I had refused the fee, the money wouldn't have been returned to the NHS, but to the commercial agency."

The ad was launched last month to highlight the work of staff in the health service.

Last year, she fronted a Labour Party election broadcast in which she said: "Under the Tories, our NHS and social care has been pushed into a state of emergency."

'Recruit another nurse'

In the Mail on Sunday, Mr Hart said: "It is hypocritical to deliver attacks on the government for cutting public spending and then pocket taxpayers' money to voice over an advertisement for more nurses.

"I'd have more respect for Maxine if she had forgone the fee and left it with the health service to recruit another nurse."

The actress is patron of The Salford Foundation Trust, which gives grants to allow children and young people in the area to develop hobbies, interests, skills and talents.

"I chose to support the Trust as I believe strongly in the life-enhancing and life-changing work they do," Peake added in her Twitter message.

"Thank you to the Mail on Sunday for allowing me to highlight the wonderful and tireless work of The Salford Foundation Trust."

An NHS England spokesman said: "We Are The NHS is a major multimillion pound campaign to encourage potential recruits to consider a career in the NHS and help fill the 100,000 vacancies that exist in the service.

"Maxine Peake offered her support at a significantly reduced rate to that which would normally apply for campaign of this scale."

A spokesman for Peake said: ""Maxine has participated in a number of charity voice overs over the last few years including MacMillan Nurses, the NSPCC and Cancer Research, which have either paid a nominal fee or in some cases no fee at all.

"The fees she has received for any organisations within the charity or public sector have been much lower than market rate."

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