A Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) letter of complaint to the media regulator about ‘misleading’ anti-GP columns in the Telegraph has garnered more than 2,500 signatures.
The DAUK wrote to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) on Friday to report Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson for breaching the Editors’ Code of Practice with ‘inaccurate’ articles.
The letter, penned ‘in response to an outbreak of misleading articles’ on the current GP crisis in the newspaper, called for a formal apology.
The DAUK today announced that ‘over 2,500 signatures of support were added over the weekend, demonstrating the sense of injustice being felt in primary care’.
The letter said the DAUK has ‘concerns’ about Ms Pearson’s ‘inaccurate suggestion that GPs are “hiding” despite NHS data confirming they are providing more consultations than ever before’.
It also raised her ‘incitement of attacks and abuse against GPs and primary care workers by using inflammatory language’ and her ‘potentially libellous statement that care from general practice is “cruel, negligent and, frankly, inhuman treatment”.’
It added that ‘responsible media reporting is a patient safety issue’, as assumptions that practices are closed could lead to patients not seeking help for serious symptoms or inappropriately using emergency departments and 111.
DAUK chair Dr Jenny Vaughan’s letter said: ‘Factual inaccuracies and negative portrayal of GPs in the press erode the trust that is vital in the doctor-patient relationship.
‘There is already an increase in physical, verbal and online abuse towards NHS staff and we are extremely concerned about the potential impact such journalism might have on the safety of NHS staff. We call for a formal response and apology from Ms Pearson.’
The DAUK is ‘extremely disappointed by the lack of central and governmental support’, she added.
The letter also said that the DAUK is ‘aware that this is not the first time Ms Pearson has been reported’ to IPSO and has previously invited her to ‘experience a typical day in general practice with no response’.
Several prominent GPs have signed the letter, including RCGP president Professor Dame Clare Gerada, NHS England medical director for Covid vaccination Dr Jonathan Leach, GP Survival Chair Dr John Hughes and media GP Dr Punam Krishan.