Telegraph corrects NHS 'never events' claim

Published: 21st Nov 2013

Back in September, the Daily Telegraph was one of three papers to tell readers that the number of "never events" occurring in English hospitals had doubled over the last year.

Such a sharp rise in never events - where failures in patient care are so serious that the NHS considers that they should never occur - might have set alarm bells ringing for those reading the article. The problem was that this doubling had never occured, and in fact the number of never events had fallen in 2012/13 compared to the previous year, as we pointed out at the time.

Today, some two and a half months after the original inaccuracies appeared, the Telegraph was the first of the papers concerned to print a correction:

While we're pleased that the matter has now been cleared up in print and online, it is disappointing that it has taken so long to reach this point, particularly when NHS England pointed out the inaccuracy itself shortly after the stories appeared.

What is even more disappointing is that neither the Daily Mail or Daily Express have yet printed their own correction, although the Mail has tacitly acknowledged the error by removing the online version of its article.

As we said at the time, it's easy to see how the mistakes were made given the shifting definition of a 'never event', but regardless of the provenance of an error it's easier to trust a newspaper that takes pride in putting it right than one that drags it heels over printing a correction.

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