Complaint 13747-16 UHCW v Coventry Telegraph
Summary of complaint
1. The University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that the Coventry Telegraph breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice in an article headlined “Revealed: Secret £250m bonfire of NHS services that will hit young, old and infirm”, published on 1 December 2016.
2. The article reported that Coventry’s hospitals faced being put under extra pressure because of secret plans by the NHS to shut A&E, maternity and children’s care at Nuneaton. It said that sources had leaked details of the planned changes ahead of the release of the Coventry and Warwickshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). It said that the plans also included restrictions on overweight people and smokers getting non-emergency surgery.
3. The complainant said that the STP did not support what was reported in the article. In particular, it was said it was inaccurate to report that the A&E at George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton would close, or that there would be restrictions on surgery for those who were overweight, smoked, or were over a certain age. It also said that it was not approached for comment until after the story had been published in print and online.
4. The newspaper said that having analysed the document in detail, and after being briefed by a source, it came to the view that there were plans to close Nuneaton A&E, and put restrictions on surgery for certain categories of individuals. It said that it had not contacted the complainant prior to publication due to an oversight.
Relevant Code Provisions
5. Clause 1 (Accuracy)
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.
ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and — where appropriate — an apology published. In cases involving IPSO, due prominence should be as required by the regulator.
6. The complaint was not resolved through correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore began an investigation into the matter.
7. In order to resolve the complaint, the publication agreed to publish the correction below on page 2 of the newspaper, as well as online:
Following a series of articles concerning Coventry and Warwickshire's Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), in which we said that the A & E Department, Maternity and Childrens' Unit at GEH were set to close and move to move to UHCW, the STP board has confirmed that plans for a single A & E and Maternity Unit for Coventry and Warwickshire have not been discussed or agreed as part of the STP planning process, that no decisions have been made for the future of A & E or Maternity Services at the George Eliot Hospital and that no changes will be made to any service without full engagement with public and staff. Further, UHCW state: “The STP plans are not about hospitals closing. It is about designing services differently with the resources that we have and focusing on preventing physical and mental ill health. The joint vision across health and social care is to work together to deliver high quality care which supports our communities to live well, stay independent and enjoy life.”
8. The complainant said this action resolved the matter to its satisfaction.
9. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code.
Date complaint received: 02/12/2016
Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 24/02/2016
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