Tomorrow sees the beginning of the end of a word journalists loathe.
“Purdah” is the rule supposedly stopping public bodies issuing politically biased information during an election.
Fleet Street has soldiered on: witness the Daily Mail’s “Patients still suffer shame of mixed hospital wards despite 13 years of Labour promises” on Tuesday, sourced from Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Conservatives. The day before, the Mail splashed with nurses covering for GPsout of hours. Although the primary care trusts are left to defend themselves in the main story, a separate box explains exactly whose 13 year stewardship of the NHS to blame.
HSJ Post-Election Briefing - Monday 10th May 2010
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Under the headline “General hospital under threat as NHS faces post-poll closures”, The Times reported that the number of trusts approaching the Independent Reconfiguration Panel for advice has more than doubled in a year.
But in contrast to its introduction - “despite election pledges from the main parties to protect health spending” - most of the piece seems to show factions in the NHS cohering around the notion of centralising services.
It marks a “dramatic shift in attitude to the great NHS taboo of reducing the number of hospitals and beds”, the piece says, listing doctors, managers, patient groups and researchers among its advocates.
Missing from that list? Politicians. Not least health secretary Andy Burnham, who last week answered many placards in a marginal seat by announcing the Whittington Hospital would be preserved. The Daily Telegraph said: “Andy Burnham accused of U-turn on A&E closures”.
Even The Guardian reported it. “Campaigners claim dramatic victory as health secretary admits proposals never had the support of staff”, it said.
Is there an election on or something?