Readers were presented with totally false statements such as “Sir Ian Kennedy, chairman of the Healthcare Commission which regulated NHS care standards at the time, said the estimated 1,200 needless deaths in four years constituted the most shocking scandal he had investigated”, and “Patients got so thirsty they drank water from flower vases”. These were old claims, and several newspapers had already corrected their use of them.
Much humble pie was in evidence on Page 2 as readers were told “In a story ‘Coward’ (21 June), we stated there were ‘1,200 deaths’ associated with the Mid-Staffs hospital scandal. We have been asked to clarify that the number of deaths has never been officially confirmed, including by the Francis Inquiry into the hospital … The story also claimed paints drank from flower vases. We have also been asked to clarify that this has never been confirmed”. Note also that there is no such thing as a “Mid-Staffs hospital”.