A complaint that a Daily Telegraph story headlined "Gove could not get X-ray for broken foot" was inaccurate has been upheld by Ipso, the Independent Press Standards organisation.
But it held that as the newspaper published a correction correcting the error as soon as it was aware of it, and had amended the online version of the article and appended a note to it, no further action was necessary.
- September 23, 2019
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- September 12, 2019
Barnaby Large had complained about the story, published on 23 July, which reported that Michael Gove's wife, journalist Sarah Vine, had expressed concern that her husband was unable to receive treatment for a possible broken foot because "parts of the NHS shut down on the weekends".
It stated Gove had gone to a minor Injuries unit, but was unable to get an X-ray because "NHS radiology departments are closed on Sundays".
Large said NHS radiology departments in many hospitals were open 24 hours a day for emergencies – had Gove visited an Accident and Emergency clinic, rather than a minor injuries unit, he would have been able to see a doctor and might well have been able to have an X-ray.
The newspaper, Large said, had given a significantly misleading impression of the provision of NHS services in order to further a political agenda, adding that the correction was not given sufficient prominence.
The newspaper said that as soon as it was made aware of the error, it corrected the inaccuracy in the online article, appended a footnote and published a correction in print which clearly addressed the inaccuracy.
But it considered that most readers would not have been misled by the article: they would have been aware that services at large general hospitals were often slower at the weekend, and that patients going to Accident and Emergency clinics were able to access radiology departments on Sundays.
Ipso's complaints committee said it was accepted that NHS radiology departments in many hospitals were open seven days a week for emergencies. The article, however, had given the significantly misleading impression that patients could not access radiology services in NHS hospitals on Sundays. This represented a failure to take care over the accuracy of the article in breach of Clause 1 (i) of the Editors' Code of Practice, and a correction was required in order to avoid a breach of Clause 1 (ii).
When alerted to the inaccuracy, the newspaper had published a correction in its established Corrections and Clarifications column on page two – six pages further forward than the original article.
The correction made clear that NHS radiology departments were open seven days a week in many hospitals.
The newspaper had also amended the online article and appended the correction to it.
The prompt action taken by the newspaper was sufficient to meet the requirement of Clause 1 (ii).