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Test and Trace ‘influencers’ were paid £63,000 by ministers to promote the service

Government ministers paid £63,000 to 42 social media ‘influencers’ to promote the NHS Test and Trace service, it has been revealed.

The ad campaign, launched last year, saw celebrities including Love Island stars Shaughna Phillips and Josh Denzel share messages of support for the health service and its coronavirus testing system on platforms such as Instagram.

The Cabinet Office figures, which come after a Freedom of Information request by independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact, would amount to £1,500 per influencer on average.

However, the payments are likely to vary depending on the size of the individual’s following on social media sites. 

While ITV2 reality stars Phillips, 26, and Denzel, 29, have a combined Instagram following of 2.7million, other social media personalities who were paid had as few as 9,000 followers. 

Government ministers paid £63,000 to 42 social media 'influencers' to promote the NHS Test and Trace service. The ad campaign, which launched last year, saw celebrities including Love Island stars Shaughna Phillips (above) and Josh Denzel share messages of support for the health service and its coronavirus testing system on platforms such as Instagram

Government ministers paid £63,000 to 42 social media 'influencers' to promote the NHS Test and Trace service. The ad campaign, which launched last year, saw celebrities including Love Island stars Shaughna Phillips (above) and Josh Denzel share messages of support for the health service and its coronavirus testing system on platforms such as Instagram

Government ministers paid £63,000 to 42 social media ‘influencers’ to promote the NHS Test and Trace service. The ad campaign, which launched last year, saw celebrities including Love Island stars Shaughna Phillips (above) and Josh Denzel share messages of support for the health service and its coronavirus testing system on platforms such as Instagram

The Cabinet Office figures, which come after a Freedom of Information request by independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact , would amount to £1,500 per influencer on average. However, the payments are likely to vary depending on the size of the individual's following on social media sites. (Pictured, 26-year-old ITV2 reality star Phillips)

The Cabinet Office figures, which come after a Freedom of Information request by independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact , would amount to £1,500 per influencer on average. However, the payments are likely to vary depending on the size of the individual's following on social media sites. (Pictured, 26-year-old ITV2 reality star Phillips)

The Cabinet Office figures, which come after a Freedom of Information request by independent fact-checking organisation Full Fact , would amount to £1,500 per influencer on average. However, the payments are likely to vary depending on the size of the individual’s following on social media sites. (Pictured, 26-year-old ITV2 reality star Phillips)

During the Test and Trace campaign, the influencers - who also included professional hockey player Henry Weir - used hashtags including '#letsgetback' and '#gettested' for the social media posts in which they shared throwback pictures of 'nights out' with friends. (Above, one such post from Phillips)

During the Test and Trace campaign, the influencers - who also included professional hockey player Henry Weir - used hashtags including '#letsgetback' and '#gettested' for the social media posts in which they shared throwback pictures of 'nights out' with friends. (Above, one such post from Phillips)

During the Test and Trace campaign, the influencers – who also included professional hockey player Henry Weir – used hashtags including ‘#letsgetback’ and ‘#gettested’ for the social media posts in which they shared throwback pictures of ‘nights out’ with friends. (Above, one such post from Phillips)

In one of Denzel's posts to his 1.5million following in 2020, he said the thing he missed most was travelling and said 'by getting tested of coronavirus we can get back to the good times'. Above, he recently posted pictures of himself in Barbados on a sun-soaked holiday

In one of Denzel's posts to his 1.5million following in 2020, he said the thing he missed most was travelling and said 'by getting tested of coronavirus we can get back to the good times'. Above, he recently posted pictures of himself in Barbados on a sun-soaked holiday

In one of Denzel’s posts to his 1.5million following in 2020, he said the thing he missed most was travelling and said ‘by getting tested of coronavirus we can get back to the good times’. Above, he recently posted pictures of himself in Barbados on a sun-soaked holiday

During the Test and Trace campaign, the influencers – who also included professional hockey player Henry Weir – used hashtags including ‘#letsgetback’ and ‘#gettested’ for the social media posts in which they shared throwback pictures of ‘nights out’ with friends. 

After trawling through these Instagram hashtags – along with #ad, which is meant to be displayed for paid-for posts – Full Fact discovered messages from 11 social media posters which seemed to be part of the Government campaign. 

In one of Denzel’s posts to his 1.5million following in 2020, he said the thing he missed most was travelling and said ‘by getting tested of coronavirus we can get back to the good times’.

Amid growing concern over the strain on the NHS due to Covid, medics and politicians have slammed influencers for rubbing their glamorous life-styles 'in the noses of the British public'. (Josh Denzel, pictured)

Amid growing concern over the strain on the NHS due to Covid, medics and politicians have slammed influencers for rubbing their glamorous life-styles 'in the noses of the British public'. (Josh Denzel, pictured)

Amid growing concern over the strain on the NHS due to Covid, medics and politicians have slammed influencers for rubbing their glamorous life-styles ‘in the noses of the British public’. (Josh Denzel, pictured)

Above, a #gettested post from Denzel. During the Test and Trace campaign, the influencers - who also included professional hockey player Henry Weir - used hashtags including '#letsgetback' and '#gettested' for the social media posts in which they shared throwback pictures of 'nights out' with friends

Above, a #gettested post from Denzel. During the Test and Trace campaign, the influencers - who also included professional hockey player Henry Weir - used hashtags including '#letsgetback' and '#gettested' for the social media posts in which they shared throwback pictures of 'nights out' with friends

Above, a #gettested post from Denzel. During the Test and Trace campaign, the influencers – who also included professional hockey player Henry Weir – used hashtags including ‘#letsgetback’ and ‘#gettested’ for the social media posts in which they shared throwback pictures of ‘nights out’ with friends

Throwback: Celebs Go Virtual Dating star Shaughna also posted a promotional picture to her Instagram on August 17 in which she shared a glamorous snap on a night out with a friend before lockdown

Throwback: Celebs Go Virtual Dating star Shaughna also posted a promotional picture to her Instagram on August 17 in which she shared a glamorous snap on a night out with a friend before lockdown

Throwback: Celebs Go Virtual Dating star Shaughna also posted a promotional picture to her Instagram on August 17 in which she shared a glamorous snap on a night out with a friend before lockdown

In the post, marked up as an advert and under the caption ‘stay at home’, he said the NHS had done ‘an incredible job’ and said ‘now it’s our turn to help them out by getting tested’.

The Cabinet Office told Full Fact: ‘As part of the wider communications strategy for raising essential awareness of the NHS Test and Trace service and the importance of testing for Covid-19, we have been working with key micro and macro influencers to reach young adults in a channel they regularly engage with, as we also use traditional marketing and advertorials to reach adults via print, radio and TV advertising.’

Other posts which may have been part of the NHS Test and Trace campaign may have been removed or appeared on other platforms, such as YouTube or TikTok, Full Fact said. 

A social media expert said that such influencers would typically command ‘£5,000 to £10,000’ per ad post, according to the Sunday Mirror.  

Love Island stars Shaughna Phillips and Josh Denzel jet off to sunny climes months after taking taxpayers’ cash to promote NHS Test and Trace system

Love Island stars have been pictured jetting off to sun-soaked locations months after taking taxpayers’ cash to promote NHS Test and Trace – as a top health chief warned earlier this week that the system isn’t working.

While millions of Britons live under stay-at-home orders, influencers such as Shaughna Phillips and Josh Denzel have both shared snaps of themselves in exotic locations.

Phillips shared a picture of herself in Dubai on Monday, while Denzel has posted a number of snaps of himself in Barbados over the last fortnight.

Shaughna Phillips shared a picture of herself in Dubai on Monday - after promoting the NHS Test and Trace system

Shaughna Phillips shared a picture of herself in Dubai on Monday - after promoting the NHS Test and Trace system

Shaughna Phillips shared a picture of herself in Dubai on Monday – after promoting the NHS Test and Trace system

The pair were both paid to promote the NHS Test and Trace service earlier this year to their combined 2.7million Instagram following.

Now, amid growing concern over the strain on the NHS due to Covid, medics and politicians have slammed influencers for rubbing their glamorous life-styles ‘in the noses of the British public’.

The criticism also comes as health chiefs say the Test and Trace service which influencers were paid to promote is ‘not working effectively and needs to be fixed’.

Phillips, a former local council worker, posted a throwback picture of her and friends on a night out as part the promotion campaign.

In the post, the Love Island star, who shared a picture of herself posed-up in a bright orange swimsuit in Dubai, urged her 1.5million followers to get a test on the NHS.

The post said: ‘A throwback to what I love most! Nights out and good friends! 

‘Although this may feel like a distant memory to us all, we can all do our part to make sure we can get back to better times, as safely as possible.

‘Guys I want to remind you about the importance of coronavirus testing and that it’s totally free, quick and is vital to stop the spread of coronavirus.

‘Getting tested for coronavirus is the best way for us all to get back to doing the things we love and I love nothing more than spending time with my friends.

‘Yesterday I visited my nearest drive though testing centre, which is literally 2 minutes from my house! I was able to book a test online, and have it carried out all under 1 hour, it was so convenient!’

She continued: ‘When I woke up this morning I had already received my results by text and email! I’ve also checked the Royal Mail website to see where my nearest priority postbox is, as well as the stickers I need to look out for on the postbox itself.

‘This will help me in the future if I need to carry out a home test kit. Everyone with symptoms, no matter how mild, can get a free test by calling 119 or visiting NHS.uk. #letsgetback #gettested #ad.’

Both Denzel and Phillips are among a flurry of influencers who have posted pictures of themselves in exotic locations in recent weeks, while Britons remain locked down at home.

Although the influencers are not breaking the law, their trips have raised eyebrows.

Labour blasted the influencers saying they should stop rubbing their life-styles in the noses of the British public.

Shadow Health Minister Justin Madders also demanded the reality stars help promote the vaccination programme free of charge.

He blasted: ‘Not only do images of the rich jetting off to holiday hotspots rub the noses in it of everyone who is making enormous sacrifices to comply with the latest lockdown back in the UK, but it sends out a wholly contradictory message to the stay at home requests of the Government.

‘These people should instead be offering to get behind the Government’s vaccination plans and supporting that on social media, free of charge.’

Frontline workers have also been left furious that while they are pulling 12-hours shifts, the Insta-famous are jetting abroad.

Nurse Holly Turner said: ‘What we can all see is the pressure that our NHS has been under from people not following health advice.

‘When I’m out there struggling to do my job, and the families I work with are pleading for support that they can’t have due to this lockdown, it’s pretty disgusting to see the attitude that influencers and clothing brands have taken.

‘Covid-19 has shown us how inter-related our health is. Nurse, child or fashion influencer, we all need to do our part.’

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Source: Daily Mail |World News

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