The Observer bagged the tenth Dr Foster Hospital Guide exclusive, leading with an exposé of the trusts it said “shame the NHS”.
The paper devoted an entire inside spread to tragic case studies, alongside a comment piece from health secretary Andrew Lansley, who called the mortality statistics “a welcome source of information about standards in healthcare services.” It probably was not welcomed by the 19 trusts named by the paper as having “alarmingly” high death rates. The number had dropped from 27 last year – a detail found more than 900 words in.
The next day the Mail published a similarly tut-tutting piece headed “NHS shamed by third rate hospitals”, complete with pictures of female victims in their 70s. The figures were blamed on “careless and incompetent” staff at “substandard hospitals.” Meanwhile the Express singled out “bungling doctors” for blame, for once letting bureaucrats and beancounters off the hook.
At the time of writing, the regional press was surprisingly mute on the subject of death rates, possibly because they were on skeleton staff over the weekend. This may well be the calm before the weekly press day storm. However, an editorial in the Liverpool Daily Post, while congratulating regional hospitals on their performance, warned cuts could lead to “less comfortable reading” in future.
In other news, proposals in the public health write paper to create designated areas for breastfeeding at work were rubbished as “micro management” by Ann Widdicombe MP on the Andrew Marr Show. Her words may have been taken slightly more seriously had she not appeared in the papers the following day dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, for her starring role in Strictly Come Dancing.