Times admits ‘scandal of NHS end-of-life care’ story was incorrect and misleading

NHS-bashing story falsely claimed 100,000s endure a 'painful, undignified or lonely death'


The Times has admitted a story claiming hundreds of thousands of people endure a ‘painful, undignified or lonely death’ due to poor NHS care was completely false.

The story published on May 20 was headed: Scandal of ‘appalling’ end-of-life NHS care.

But today the Times’s corrections box called the story ‘incorrect and misleading’.

The correction begins:

“We stated that ‘Hundreds of thousands of people endure a painful, undignified or lonely death because of ‘appalling’ end-of-life care right across the NHS’ (News, May 20).

It notes the parliamentary health ombudsman’s report on which the claim was based said nothing of the kind.

The report in fact said:

“there is a potential to improve the experience of care in the last year and months of life for approximately 355,000 people” [the number of expected yearly deaths].

The Times correction continues:

“It [the report] did not state or suggest that the majority of NHS patients currently receive poor end-of-life care.”

The paper says the word ‘appalling’ came from the Department of Health in reference to just 12 cases of very poor care in the report.

Somehow, 12 cases were taken as representative of hundreds of thousands. 

A correction on this is welcome, even in a tiny box on page 28 and three months late.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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