ITV News this evening once again mentioned the supposed ‘excess’ toll of 400-1200 ‘unnecessary’ deaths that are supposed to have occurred at Stafford NHS hospital.
It is an early example of modern, Tory-sponsored mainstream fake news – yet still lazily regurgitated by media and by Tories looking for something to attack Labour with on the NHS.
The discovery of that fake news was what first put the SKWAWKBOX on the map – and set the pattern followed since of information broken on this blog, ridiculed and then admitted by the mainstream.
The SKWAWKBOX examined events at Stafford hospital in early 2013 – and found that what was being presented as a huge ‘excess’ death toll was in fact a statistical construct misrepresented as fact by political and commercial vested interests.
When a clinical investigation was carried out into the questionable deaths, medical expert found “maybe one” death that might have been avoided if everything had been done right – which is actually an exceptional performance, as every acute hospital in the UK will have deaths every week that might have been avoided if everything had gone perfectly.
The ‘toll’ arose from a misapplication of ‘average’ deaths, which meant that around half of all hospitals would always be below average – and the hospital’s decision to sack the trained ‘coders’ responsible for ensuring that the seriousness of a patient’s condition on arrival was properly recorded.
A cost-cutting measure that ended up costing the hospital millions – and falsely inflating its mortality rates:
But even the official report looking at the mortality statistics warned that no conclusions should be drawn from them about actual deaths – and was ignored by an Establishment eager to undermine the NHS and attack the Labour Party.
The SKWAWKBOX uncovered these facts and was attacked for publishing them. The mainstream media initially ‘doubled down’ on the fake news, for example claiming that the head of the government’s NHS inquiry, Sir Bruce Keogh, had stated there were 13,000 such deaths across the NHS – a claim he immediately refuted:
But then even the ‘MSM’ started to acknowledge the truth:
Even the right-wing press grudgingly admitted it eventually:
Academic experts also rubbished the ‘death toll’.
None of that stopped David Cameron and other Tories repeating it in the House of Commons – nor prevented Theresa May regurgitating it there just last year.
Such false claims damage public confidence in the NHS – and now ITV News has forgotten that the claims were exposed as fake news and has recycled them again.
The fake news about Stafford eventually cost the people of Stafford most of their hospital services – after the hospital had become one of the highest-ranked and in spite of mass rallies of support by local people.
This forced them into a 40-minute – at best – journey to Stoke when they need treatment. Stoke was almost immediately pushed into crisis because of under-resourcing, but also because of additional demand caused by the closures at Stafford.
Moving services to Stoke cost some £83 million more than keeping Stafford running would have.
The Tories found the Stafford tactic so successful that they started to use it against other hospitals, investigating many for their mortality rates – when they didn’t have high mortality.
We must not allow fake news to cost us more of our NHS.
And – just perhaps – there’s a lesson in all of this about fake news: that the Establishment and the MSM are its main creators and propagators, for their own purposes.
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