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Mail claim that GPs ‘fuelled’ A&E crisis not inaccurate, regulator rules

Mail claim that GPs ‘fuelled’ A&E crisis not inaccurate, regulator rules

Exclusive The media regulator has ruled that Mail Online did not breach journalist code by publishing an article claiming that GPs have ‘fuelled’ a crisis in England’s A&E departments.

In June, the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) raised a formal letter of complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) about the ‘misleading’ anti-GP coverage, which garnered 2,395 signatures. 

It said that Mail Online’s story breached the ‘accuracy’ clause of the Editors’ Code of Practice (Clause 1).

But following an assessment of the complaint, IPSO today concluded that it ‘does not raise a possible breach of the Editors’ Code’.

In a response to the DAUK, seen by Pulse, IPSO said that the article did ‘set out the basis for the headline’s summary that the A&E waits were “fueled by GPs”, where several quoted individuals and organisations linked difficulties accessing GPs with longer A&E wait times’.

It added: ‘We did therefore not consider the article to be significantly inaccurate, misleading, or distorted, and considered that the headline was supported by the text of the article.’

IPSO also rejected the DAUK’s complaint that the Mail article ‘focused unreasonably on GPs when all frontline services are stretched’.

It said: ‘Newspapers have the right to choose which pieces of information they publish, as long as this does not lead to a breach of the Code. This means that choosing to focus on GPs did not, in and of itself, represent a breach of the Code where, for the reasons set out above, the source of the concerns was made clear. 

‘The article did not go so far as to claim that a lack of GP availability was the only reason for pressure on A&E departments and we noted that the article stated that other public services were under pressure.’

And IPSO added that there was ‘no stand-alone requirement’ for the tabloid to reach out to any GPs or professional medical bodies for comment.

However, the DAUK has a right to appeal the decision to reject the complaint within the next seven days, IPSO said.

It added that it has shared the correspondence with the Mail ‘to make it aware of your concerns’.

The article, which topped the Mail Online website on 8 June, was headlined: ‘Fury at video that lays bare huge A&E waits “being fueled by GPs”: Campaigners say desperate patients are turning to overwhelmed casualty units because they can’t get face-to-face appointments – as video shows nurse announcing 13-hour wait’.

Following its publication, the RCGP issued a statement clarifying that there is ‘no known evidence linking long A&E waits to GP access’.

And Pulse revealed that Mail Online had misrepresented a CQC study in its coverage on the impact of GP access on A&E attendances.

Former health secretary Sajid Javid previously blamed increased pressure on A&E departments on a lack of GP appointments, which the RCGP disputed.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Simon Ruffle 9 August, 2022 3:46 pm

Rule 1: never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Rule 2: if facts do not suit current government see rule 1.

Michelle Drage 9 August, 2022 3:51 pm


Nigel Dickson 9 August, 2022 4:51 pm

The Tories mouthpiece the Daily Wail loves bashing GPs because Tories don’t like GPs – so that’s hardly news to anybody’s ears. It’s why General practice is currently were it is. Don’t know what all the fuss is about Daily Wail having yet another go at GPs for their masters – there is currently a huge crisis in General Practice access – have any of you tried recently phoning your own GPs surgery and trying to get a routine appointment with your own or any GP at the practice? Its not easy is it? if you can get through on the phone its a 6 to 8 week wait in large parts of the country. But that isn’t the GP practices its this Tory governments fault fair and square. So of course anybody with any sense who is remotely ill will take a trip to A&E if they can’t get through to their GP practice on the phone or get an appointment in under 2 months – its a no brainer.

David jenkins 10 August, 2022 12:33 am

makes you wonder what actual lies have to be promulgated for there to have been a breach !!

Andrew F 10 August, 2022 12:41 am

Of course, with cuts to primary care services in England required soon, in order to balance pay awards not backed by increased funding, more patients will have to go to ED.

Keith Greenish 10 August, 2022 7:58 am

So what about the crisis in General Practice caused by underperforming hospitals forcing patients to rely upon their GP to provide 2° care services?

Malcolm Kendrick 10 August, 2022 9:19 am

My response to the ‘you cannot ever see a GP’ or suchlike, is the following. ‘if there are massive queues at the supermarket check-outs, so you blame the check-out staff. Or, do you blame management for not have enough staff available.’ In short, please to not blame GPs for there not being enough GPs. Please blame the Government for failing to fund the service. And, by the way, the more you attack GPs the fewer there will be.

Truth Finder 10 August, 2022 11:15 am

Inaccurate=lies. BMA, take us the dentist’s way. We are sick of the bureacracy.

Dave Haddock 10 August, 2022 12:04 pm

Not sure how the usual Lefty ranting “Tories to blame” works in Scotland – devolved Healthcare and SNP Government; or in Wales – devolved Healthcare and Labour Government.
The Welsh Government have arguably treated GPs worse than Tory Westminster – NHS indemnity was funded by subtracting money from the Global Sum in Wales.

Dave Haddock 10 August, 2022 12:09 pm

Pretending that some GPs have not exploited Covid to reduce workload is either dishonest or deluded.
I have sat in on a PCN meeting and listened to GPs bragging about how little work they were doing. I have tried to get seen by my own GP. Please don’t try and tell me that grass is blue.

Patrufini Duffy 10 August, 2022 2:05 pm

Keep the public fighting amongst public servants. An age old doctrine of the elite and media.
Which now fails. Gutted.
Matrix is over.

David Church 10 August, 2022 7:18 pm

So, the regulator has confirmed that the A&E crisis is not due to a shortage of A&E doctors, so hospitals don’t need extra funding; the A&E crisis is due to a shortage of GPs – the obvious solution to which is to provide better funding to GP services to entice GPs into work from elsewhere.
I don’t know about Dave Haddock’s comment about SOME GPs bragging about doing very little work, perhaps the staff actually doing the work in those practices should charge higher locum rates!. The practices I work for are mostly working very hard to keep up, although having to cover the variabilities of on-the-day demand in small rural practices means that DNAs can mean a short break to catch up on paperwork! But either way, I am sure grass-smoke is blue, and sea is green

Samir Shah 11 August, 2022 4:04 pm

The regulator must be right , it probably didn’t break the Mail’s journalistic code – Rule A. spread lies and have no journalistic integrity.
Obviously a shortage of GPs has ‘fuelled the crisis’.
GPs fuelled the crisis in the same way as Oxygen producing plants fuel Global Warming, or Exercise and Healthy eating fuels obesity.
Imagine IPSO would call that accurate too – the Mail Journalistic Code. Awesome.

Dave Haddock 12 August, 2022 12:54 pm

Shortage of GPs or excess demand?
Removal of some of the vast quantities of pointless bureaucracy would free up GP time to see patients, whilst a small charge for appointments would dramatically reduce demand to be seen.