Sign DAUK’s complaint to IPSO calling out Mail Online’s claims that GPs are fuelling waits in Emergency Departments

Dear Independent Press Standards Organisation,

We would like to raise a formal complaint following a recent article published in the Mail Online by Mr Connor Boyd, Deputy Health Editor.

On 8 June 2022, Mr Boyd wrote an article entitled, “Fury at video that lays bare huge A&E waits ‘being fueled by GPs’”.

The opening paragraph of Mr Boyd’s article states:

“A dire lack of access to GPs has been blamed for the country’s A&E crisis after video emerged of patients being told they faced waits of up to 13 hours in an emergency department.”

In reference to the Editors’ Code of Practice, we wish to report breaches of the following sections of Clause 1 (Accuracy):

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information or images, including headlines not supported by the text.

iv) The Press, while free to editorialise and campaign, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

There is no evidence whatsoever to demonstrate that long A&E waits result from, or are fuelled by GPs.

This headline is clearly inaccurate, misleading and not supported by text. Whilst quotations marks are used in the headline, these specific words are not attributed to anyone (anonymous or otherwise) in the article.

Our most recent appointment data from NHS Digital shows that 25.3 million GP appointments were held in April 2022, up from 16.6 million GP appointments in April 2020.

Appointments in General Practice, April 2022 – NHS Digital:

During this same time, there were 2,028,228 A&E attendances in April 2022 compared to 916,575 attendances in April 2020.

Statistics » A&E Attendances and Emergency Admissions 2022-23:

It is therefore clear that all frontline health services are stretched at this time, yet Mr Boyd unreasonably and inaccurately chooses to blame GPs for delays within hospital settings and also bed shortages.

Throughout his article, Mr Boyd makes no attempt to distinguish between comment, conjecture and fact.

It is evident that this is not an opinion piece, and it appears that no GPs were interviewed and no professional medical bodies were approached for comment.

We respectfully seek your support to help correct this false narrative and restore the integrity of our GPs that continue to work above and beyond the call of duty.

Dr Ellen Welch, GP, Co-Chair DAUK
Dr Matt Kneale, Foundation doctor in A&E Co-Chair DAUK
Dr Elizabeth Toberty, GP Lead DAUK

Response from Mail Online

Response from IPSO

DAUK will be appealing the above decision by IPSO. Our appeal:

Pulse have followed this story closely and you can read their coverage here

Read the Latest Response by IPSO on our appeal: 

Dear Dr Welch,

The Complaints Committee has considered your complaint, the email from IPSO’s Executive notifying you of its view that your complaint did not raise a possible breach of the Code, and your email requesting a review of the Executive’s decision. The Committee agreed the following decision: The Committee appreciated that this article was a source of frustration for you and that you considered it to be exacerbating low morale among GPs. However, while the Committee was sorry to hear of these concerns, IPSO can only address concerns linked to the Editors’ Code of Practice. You provided data which you considered demonstrated that the selection of data in the article was misleading. However, the Committee wished to highlight that newspapers are entitled to publish what they choose, provided the information is accurate. Where you did not dispute that the figures themselves selected for publication were accurate, there was no reason to investigate a possible breach of Clause 1 on this point. You expressed concerns that the article’s headline was based on opinions of people quoted in the article, rather than facts. The Committee firstly noted that the were no specific findings of inaccuracies in the article. Additionally, the Editors’ Code does not require that the headlines of news articles are not based on the opinions of individuals; the requirement is that headlines are supported by the text of the article. Where – as you pointed out – the headline is supported by opinions quoted in the article, there was no possible breach of the Code on this point. For this reason, and the reasons already provided by IPSO’s Executive, the Committee decided that your complaint did not raise a possible breach of the Code. As such, it declined to re-open your complaint. The Committee would like to thank you for giving it the opportunity to consider your concerns.

Best wishes,

Molly Richards

Complaints Officer