Clinic recruited teenage patients at nightclub

A newly opened health clinic in Ängelholm, south Sweden chose an unconventional marketing technique by recruiting patients among young revellers at a nightclub.

Young people who agreed to register with the health clinic were offered free entrance to the nightclub, reported local newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad (HD).

According to HD the already tough competition between local clinics in Ängelholm intensified when the new private clinic, called Vårdkliniken, opened in early April.

On Tuesday night the two owners of Vårdkliniken handed out leaflets by the entrance of the nightclub Bahnhof, where around 100 school pupils gathered to celebrate that they have just 50 days left until graduation.

The owners offered the teenagers 60 kronor ($9) for registering as patients with their clinic – the same amount as the club’s cover charge.

“They said that we would get into the club for free if we signed a paper that they showed us,” said one student.

“But they said nothing about being from a health clinic,” added another, who said he thought the clinic owners were local transport officials.

It was only when one of the boys took time to read the brochure properly that the friends realized they had agreed to join the new health clinic.

The students told HD that they felt tricked and they believe they were taken advantage of.

“Nobody really thinks about whether you should change doctors at midnight on a Tuesday when you’re also a bit drunk,” said one student.

Another student said he was happy with his current doctor and had no wish to start seeing a new one. When he called Vårdkliniken to cancel his registration he was told he had already been transferred and that he would have to contact his old clinic for help.

“Standing among drunk youths and getting them to sign something without informing them what it’s about is hardly good advertising,” he said.

A teacher at the boys’ school called the clinic’s methods “unethical”.

“These boys have little money, they are a bit merry and are having a night out and then these people take their chances… They did not receive any information but were tricked into this without having the chance to make a real choice,” the teacher said.

“It is certainly unusual for the public sector and for the healthcare sector,” one of the clinic owners said of the unconventional patient recruitment method.

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