Mail Online corrects inaccurate NHS migrant story

by Luke Lythgoe | 08.06.2016

InFacts today secured its first newspaper correction after it lodged 11 complaints with the press watchdog on May 19 about inaccurate articles appearing in three eurosceptic papers. The Mail Online has corrected an article claiming the NHS is “nearly at breaking point” due to a “massive influx of EU migrants”, also publishing a correction in its clarifications and corrections column. The Mail Online’s action was prompted by our complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO).

The original article was headlined: “Report shows the NHS is nearly at breaking point as massive influx of EU migrants forces doctors to take on 1.5 million extra patients in just three years.”

Mail Online NHS headline

But the Mail Online provides no evidence that EU migrants are responsible for the NHS being at “breaking point”. Its story is based on an article in The Sun headlined “NHS ‘swamped’ as EU migrants soar”, which in turn was based on a dossier published by Vote Leave. The 1.5 million “extra patients” figure relates to the rise in GP registrations from all sources, including increasing life expectancy and migration from outside the EU.  The data is provided by the Health & Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), but it does not record the nationality of patients.

After InFacts complained to IPSO, the Mail Online amended its headline to stress the link with migrants was being made by Vote Leave. It now reads: “Figures show strain on NHS as doctors take on 1.5 million extra patients in just three years – with Vote Leave campaigners blaming rise in EU migrants.”

Mail Online new NHS headline

The article’s sub-head and introduction were changed in a similar way. It was also made clear that the 1.5 million figure came from the HSCIC, and a paragraph added to take into account other factors behind the increase: “The HSCIC does not provide a breakdown of patients by GP per nationality, but increasing life expectancy and migration from outside the EU could be other factors in the rise.”

A footnote acknowledging the changes was added to the bottom of the article, with a correction published in the Mail Online’s clarifications and corrections column.

Corrections and Clarifications

This correction follows on from InFacts’ previous success forcing corrections and changes from eurosceptic publications, most notably from the Daily Mail on EU migrant crime statistics. The ten other complaints from InFacts’ original dossier remain with IPSO. We have also since published a new dossier outlining six more inaccurate or misleading stories, some appearing in multiple publications, and have lodged eight new complaints with the press watchdog.

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    Edited by Geert Linnebank

    One Response to “Mail Online corrects inaccurate NHS migrant story”

    • Question : Can IMMIGRATION excesses be controlled while in the EU and WITHOUT breaching the FREE MOVEMENT of people rule of the EU? The answer is…YES!!!!! I tell you why (to put the leavers argument on immigration at rest): It can be done extending the scope of what had been done already with the GMC rules on EU doctors (and done similarly in all EU countries Medical bodies): To work in UK (or any EU country) you need certificate of adequate language proficiency. Now this can be extended simply in all levels of working environments (I guess with different language skills requirements: for non skilled, semi-skilled, skilled layers of employments prospects). The Uk can simply (without any EU regulation breaches – as already happening with GMC and similar Medical bodies in the EU) put the barrier lower or higher of language skills to allow a EU (but also non EU) worker to apply to work in UK (so no longer even discrimination between EU and non EU- potentially). Then: no possession of such certificate of language proficiency: no right to work benefit or social housing (therefore to avoid workers getting into the black market) and no rights for their children to a school place. If there is a need of workers in a specific area (layer) the language proficiency barrier can be lowered (or increased if excessive number of migrants arriving). The administraion costs of such tests to fall entirely on the potential migrant (obviously prices to reflect the background economy of the country). Therefore, yes, UK can operate controls on migration levels from within the EU (without hindering the principle of free movement) as it will be only with the barier required (and reasonable) of language skills (proficiency) adapted according to a possible one of 3 layers (non skilled, semi skilled or skilled working environments). NO requirement from the UK to ask EU permission on this (as from the requirement now added to GMC since 2013-2014).