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Complainant Name:
Mr Richard Duffy

Clauses Noted: 1

Publication: The Sunday Times


Mr Richard Duffy complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had breached Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors' Code of Practice, in an article regarding standards in healthcare. The complainant was concerned that the article had referred to between 400 and 1,200 people having "died unnecessarily" at Stafford Hospital. He said that the correct terminology was "avoidable deaths". He also said that the figures used were incorrect and were the result of coding errors which were made during the investigation into care standards at the hospital. The complainant was further concerned about the link drawn between Stafford Hospital and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.


The complaint was resolved after the PCC negotiated the amending of the phrase "...between 400 and 1,200 patients are believed to have died unnecessarily between 2005 and 2009" to "there were believed to have been between 400 and 1,200 avoidable deaths of patients between 2005 and 2009."

The newspaper also appended a note to the online article, along with all digital versions, which read:

"The article above states that there were believed to have been between 400 and 1,200 avoidable deaths at Stafford Hospital between 2005 and 2009. Whilst these figures have been widely used in media and other reports since at least 2011, they are now disputed."

Date Published: 16/05/2014

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