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The NHS has stepped in to defend its charity Christmas advert after it was heavily criticised by parents for showing Father Christmas unconscious in hospital.

The advert, titled The Gift, was released by NHS Charities Together and begins by showing an old bearded man being rushed into hospital as doctors and nurses try to revive him.

The man can then be seen waking up with oxygen tubes attached to his face as a masked nurse asks him: ‘How you feeling?’.

The short advert shows the man’s slow recovery, with the help of the nurse, as he begins to walk and eat again.

He even receives a Get Well Soon card from his head reindeer Rudy as he goes through the naughty and nice list.

Later on in the clip, the man, who has been nursed back to full health, is revealed to be Santa Claus.

NHS ad showing Santa sick with coronavirus in hospital slammed for 'scaring kids' Pics: NHS Charities Together/YouTube

The advert showed a sick man in hospital (Picture: NHS Charities Together)

NHS ad showing Santa sick with coronavirus in hospital slammed for 'scaring kids' Pics: NHS Charities Together/YouTube

Parents accused the advert of being ‘scary for children’ (Picture: NHS Charities Together)

After leaving the hospital and waving goodbye to the medics who helped to save him, the advert ends with the nurse receiving a present which read: ‘Thank you for everything you’ve done for all of us, Santa.’

The advert – which was meant to celebrate and pay a tribute to the NHS staff who worked on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic – has been criticised by viewers online.

NHS ad showing Santa sick with coronavirus in hospital slammed for 'scaring kids' Pics: NHS Charities Together/YouTube

Santa was nursed back to health (Picture: NHS Charities Together)

Some branded the advert ‘disturbing’ and ‘insensitive’, while others claim it will ‘scare children’, although the charity has stated it is not aimed at youngsters.

‘Santa NHS TV ad which is fear propaganda and disturbing for children,’ one tweeted.

While another said: ‘Has anyone seen the @nhsad that is treating Santa Claus for covid ????? Are you joking here!!!! You’ve taken their education away now you wanna take their innocence ?? Do me a favour.’

NHS Christmas advert

It turns out he was Santa all along (Picture: NHS Charities Together)

NHS Christmas advert

The advert was meant to pay a tribute to the NHS (Picture: NHS Charities Together)

One added: ‘It needs banning and those responsible strung up. The issue is, I bet there are parents out there who would watch this ad with their kids and tell them that Santa can get sick and the NHS are gods etc…’

‘This is absolutely disgusting… how dare they use Santa and scare the kids like that?’ another commented.

NHS Charities Together has since released a statement defending its festive ad, where they explained children weren’t the intended audience for the commercial.

‘We created our Christmas campaign to highlight the ongoing commitment and hard work of NHS staff and volunteers to keep us safe and well in what has been and continues to be a really challenging time for the NHS,’ they said in a statement.

‘We are really grateful that through the support of our partners we were able to create a film to get that point across, and to encourage people to keep supporting NHS staff, patients and volunteers by generating donations to our appeal.

‘When we launched the ad earlier in the week, we had an overwhelmingly positive response to it. Some subsequent media coverage of it has generated criticism of the ad on social media and some people have expressed their concern about it upsetting children.’

The charity went on to apologise to the parents of the children the ad may have upset.

The statement continued: ‘The ad has been made to engage charity supporters and those who may want to buy products that generate donations to the appeal. It isn’t aimed at children and hasn’t been shown on TV. The charity did not put any funds into the production of the ad.

‘We worked closely with the team behind the ad to make sure it was produced responsibly and it was cleared for use by the relevant regulatory authority. However, 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.’ has reached out to the NHS for further comment.

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