The establishment of the NHS Commissioning Board could prove to be one of the more momentous events in the service’s history, but the occasion went all but unmarked by the national papers.
Only the BBC website ran a story about the board, informing readers that it could help patients shop around for a GP by publishing more information about primary care performance.
The Sunday Mirror had a piece quoting Malcolm Grant, the “man put in charge of Britain’s £100bn health budget by the Tories” (the board’s new chair to you and me), telling the health committee two weeks ago that he was “not a patient of the NHS”.
And that was about it – the nationals were mostly busy pursuing other stories, including marking the death of tireless health service fundraiser Sir Jimmy Savile.
However, the Sunday Telegraph carried a long piece about NHS bosses hired on lucrative daily rates after leaving executive posts with big pay-offs.
Elsewhere, papers were sceptical about forthcoming National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines which could allow all women the right to request a caesarean section.
“Now all women have the right to NHS caesareans”, ran the headline in the Daily Mail, while an editorial condemned the move as a “misuse of NHS funds”.
The Times was also unimpressed, noting in its story doctors’ comments that the plan would be “impossible”.
The Care Quality Commission’s critical report into Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust seemed to deflect attention away from last week’s publication of the new “death rate” – the summary hospital-level mortality indicator.
In the Independent, the SHMI story appeared as a footnote to a full page’s coverage of problems with the trust’s maternity services. The Daily Mail splashed on Barking, Havering and Redbridge, but ignored the SHMI completely, while the Guardian, Times and Telegraph only ran short pieces.
A job well done, DH media managers.