The formal publication of the second NHS Atlas of Variation led inevitably to a chorus of “postcode lottery” headlines this week.
The Guardian was first off the mark on Friday with the tautological “NHS postcode lottery survey reveals wide UK disparities”.
The Daily Telegraph went with “Study reveals postcode lottery” on Saturday, and by Monday the cliché had even found its way into the Financial Times (headline: “Postcode lottery for NHS treatment”).
None apparently noticed that HSJ had run an exclusive on the atlas on 7 December.
Plans to launch a consumer guide for care home services also caught the imagination of the nationals.
“What a waste of time and money,” wrote Max Pemberton in the Telegraph, warning “it will just become another place for furious people to vent their spleen”.
It was a mixed week for the Care Quality Commission. The regulator had positive coverage in the Daily Mail and Telegraph for yet another report on poor dignity and respect in hospitals and care homes. Meanwhile The Observer ran a short article on ministers considering a “good care guide”, to be published by the CQC, alongside plans to allow relatives to help inspect care homes.
But on Monday the Guardian spoiled things by revealing that health secretary Andrew Lansley had ordered an investigation into how complaints about the commission’s board were handled. The paper has for some weeks been running stories about escalating concerns about the watchdog.
Meanwhile the Mail got in very early with a post-Christmas story. On Monday it ran a piece titled the “detox delusion” based on an article in science journal The Biologist.
It reported that “detox” treatments were not the remedy for holiday excess, as health claims about them were “at best unfounded and at worst dangerous”.
The shock revelation from scientists being that “the body is perfectly capable of detoxing itself without extra help”.