Top health journalist says NHS England refused him press pass because of previous 'critical stories'

A British Journalism Award-winning freelance health journalist has said he believes he has been refused accreditation to attend an NHS conference because of stories he has written that were critical of the health service.

Martyn Halle, whose work is regularly published in national Sunday newspapers, said he had been granted a press pass to the NHS Health and Care Innovation Expo 2017 (which runs today and tomorrow) last week.

But on Saturday he was sent an email by NHS England head of press James Lyons that said: “I understand you have applied to come to Expo. I’m afraid that we are declining your application.”

Halle said no real explanation had been given for the refusal.

“I’m furious that they have done this,” he said.

“I mean its obstructing journalists from doing their job. It’s unforgivable that NHS England should stop a health journalist covering an event like that and give no reason at all.”

He added: “I think it’s because I have done critical stories, but I do not know why they would do it and he wouldn’t give a reason other than we don’t have a relationship with you, which is nonsense. I ring them up about stories that I’m working on quite often.”

Halle’s work exposing shortcomings at North Middlesex Hospital in the Sunday People won him Campaign of the Year at the British Journalism Awards last year.

Standard expo tickets for private sector workers cost £595. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt is due to deliver a key note address on Tuesday.

NHS England declined to comment.

Picture: Reuters/Hannah McKay

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