PRWeek has learned that national news organisations have complained to Health Secretary Andy Burnham about the way the Care and Quality Commission (CQC) released a report on Basildon University Hospital two weeks ago.
The Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Mirror and Press Association are all understood to have sent letters expressing concern about the CQC media operation, after press officers tipped off only a handful of broadsheet journalists.
The CQC report made headlines in November with its disclosures that Basildon Hospital death rates were 30 per cent higher than the national average. But some journalists claim they were initially prevented from accessing the report.
One source said: 'Coming from a public body, we would have expected the report to have been made available to all media simultaneously and without preferential treatment.'
A CQC spokesman said: 'We always listen to the views of our press colleagues and will do so on this occasion.'