A bus company has rejected calls for it to remove an advert featuring a sexy ''matron'' from its vehicles amid claims that it demeans the nursing profession. The West Midlands-based Diamond Bus Company described the ad - which pictures a blonde wearing a figure-hugging Ann Summers-style dress alongside the slogan ''Ooooh matron!'' - as harmless fun designed to promote a route serving a hospital.
But local nursing representatives and Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust have called on Diamond to axe the ''degrading'' image from the back of its buses. A spokesman for the NHS Trust said a number of nurses had been upset by the advert, which they felt presented their profession in a derogatory manner. ''We have asked that these advertisements be removed and we are very disappointed that the bus company has declined our request,'' the spokesman said.
The advert on services linking Worcester city centre with the Worcestershire Royal Hospital was also criticised by the local branch of the Royal College of Nursing. Shaunee Irvine, a nurse and Royal College of Nursing steward at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, said: ''Using this kind of imagery to portray nurses is cliched and, frankly, an insult to the intelligence of most people, and it's clear that it demeans nurses and devalues the nursing profession. Nurses object to the trivialisation and gratuitous sexualisation of nursing, not least because it can risk fuelling a mistaken impression of nurses among some people, and this makes our already difficult job even more challenging.''
But Stephen Bryce, Diamond's head of operations, defended the promotional campaign, which was vetted by a group of nurses before being approved. Claiming that public transport had been viewed as a boring alternative to the car for too long, Mr Bryce said: ''We wanted to create a bright and positive brand that would not only attract passengers from our competitors but also encourage car-users to use the bus."