A regional daily which helped expose one of the biggest healthcare scandals in NHS history marked the publication of a government inquiry with five pages of same-day coverage plus a special pull-out.
The Express & Star is believed to have been the first paper to hit the streets with the findings of the Francis report into poor care provided at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust.
Previously the West Midlands daily had been the first paper to publish stories about the high mortality rates and sub-standard care given to patients at Stafford Hospital, before the real extent of the scandal became apparent.
It followed a lengthy investigation by reporter Shaun Lintern, who now works for the Health Service Journal.
E&S editor Adrian Faber said: “This was an example of real teamwork, not just by the team that went to London, but by the newsdesk, picturedesk and subs in head office.
“It was a job well done and provided the best possible coverage on an important issue. It also displayed our strength in being a same-day publisher.”
Former health correspondent Shaun, who left the paper last year and covered the report for the HSJ, was called up before the inquiry to give evidence on the stories he wrote and his dealings with the paper.
He was also given special mention in the final report, with an acknowledgement that health organisations in future should monitor reports in the local press for any elements of concern.
Said Shaun: “When I contacted families who were complaining about poor care at Stafford Hospital to see if I could help them I had no idea where this story would take me or them. Five years on and it’s no exaggeration to say the story has changed my life.
“I never imagined I would be asked to give evidence to a public inquiry about my journalism and now to see my evidence in the final report and a recommendation that local media reporting should be monitored by NHS organisations to help them spot poor care is hugely rewarding.
“I came into journalism to give people a voice and to make a difference – I genuinely feel I have done that in the case of Mid Staffordshire.”
A team of four reporters from the Express & Star, including political editor Daniel Wainwright and chief reporter of the Staffordshire editions Catherine Dalton, joined him and many others from across the country at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in London for the release of the report.
They went into the lock-in at 9.30am, where they were able to read the report but not communicate with anyone until its official release at 11.30am.
Meanwhile, crime correspondent Shaun Jepson and chief photographer Tim Thursfield remained outside to speak to campaigners.
The words and pictures from the team formed a front page splash as well as an additional four-page special pull-out for the flagship City Final edition.
The team also provided sister title the Shropshire Star with its same-day coverage, which was spread over three pages.
The Express & Star also followed up with an eight-page special supplement providing details of the report, in-depth background pieces, reaction and analysis.
The pull-out, which also included a contribution from Shaun Lintern, also ran in the free weekly edition of the Stafford Express & Star.