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Complainant Name:
NHS Blackpool

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: Blackpool Gazette


Ms Colette Cassin, Head of Communications for NHS Blackpool, complained to the Press Complaints Commission about an article reporting a mother's claim that, after having received a letter from Marton Medical Practice inviting her to arrange a swine flu vaccination for her son, she had been informed by the Practice that the letter had been sent out in error. The complainant said that the article was inaccurate; no letters had been issued by the Practice and, further, the mother had not been ‘told that it was sent by mistake'. The complainant was also concerned that the newspaper published the mother's claims without ever having seen the letter.


The matter was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following apology:

An article headlined ‘Mother's fury over swine flu jab error' was published in The Gazette on January 19 2011. The report stated that in November 2010 Kelly Gawne received a letter from Marton Medical Practice advising her to take her child for a swine flu vaccine. It said that, upon contacting the Practice, she was informed the letter had been issued in error, and ‘should never have been sent out'. It further alleged that Miss Gawne had been told that ‘the vaccine was available in other practices, but that she would need a prescription from her own doctor'. To date The Gazette has not seen the letter in question.

Since publication, we have been contacted by NHS Blackpool, who asked us to make the following points clear:

There was no error by Marton Medical Practice as no letters regarding swine flu vaccinations were issued by them. While, in accordance with Department of Health Guidelines in place at the time, Blackpool NHS did issue letters between December 2009 and February 2010, none were sent out after May 2010.

NHS Blackpool deny that any member of the Marton Medical Practice told Miss Gawne that the letter had been sent out by mistake. The Practice say they ceased giving swine flu vaccinations when the Department of Health programme ended in March 2010.

The swine flu vaccine is not available in other practices. Furthermore, even if prescribed by a doctor, it cannot be obtained from a chemist.

We are happy to clarify the situation and wish to apologise to NHS Blackpool and Marton Medical Practice for the errors in our original article.

Date Published: 20/04/2011

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