by Martin Odoni

(Rhyming slang in the title completely unintentional. Honest.)

On the subject of Michael Gove’s cunning stunt (!) at a Minor Injuries Unit in Shepton Mallet the other day, the Daily Telegraph has since printed a ‘clarification’ – really should be called a retraction – in the small print, and an image of it has gone viral over social media. (The fact that it took some days for it to do so perhaps tells us something about how quiet newspapers are about printing retractions; it therefore took a while for people to notice.)

Anyway, here is the screenshot; –

Torygraph quiet retraction

The Daily Torygraph admits that a story they ran about the NHS was totally misleading. What a shock.

So we at least have an admission, doubtless prepared at the same time as the original story, that the information in it was thoroughly misleading. But the cynicism of this small-print retraction is underlined by the fact that it should have included a couple of other details social media users have uncovered with a little digging; –

Firstly, the Minor Injuries Unit that Gove attended in Shepton Mallet is part of an ‘outsourced’ medical complex run by the scandal-prone private firm, Care UK. (It should be emphasised that the unit itself is run by the local NHS Foundation Trust, and not by Care UK. I need to mention this, as the rumour seems to be circulating that the MIU is privately-run, when it is not.) It is interesting that while Gove was on this site, he was unable to get an X-ray performed by the private medical centre either, but that this shortcoming received no apparent criticism or even comment. Maybe he just had no money on him? Oh well, perhaps now he realises what his party intends medical care to be like for the rest of us?

Secondly, and more importantly, the Minor Injuries Unit does not have an Accident & Emergency department, and was never meant to have; the main purpose of the Community Hospital of which it is a part is post-treatment rehabilitation, not first-point-of-contact emergency treatment. To attend such a unit to check for a possible broken foot would therefore be stupidity bordering on infantile, like sending The Woodcraft Folk to war to fight the Red Army. Given this is Michael Gove we are discussing, I suppose we cannot entirely rule out such stupidity, but no, I think I am safe in my original conclusion that this was just a dirty stitch-up attempt.

There really should be prison sentences for the deceitfulness of the Conservative Party and its media allies, in their endless attempts to smear the good name of the National Health Service.