the Guardian breaks ranks with the other media, prompted by my correction, to
reveal that NHS England A&E is a staggering 20% less effective than NHS
Scotland with only 74.5% as opposed to 89.2% seen in 4 hours, BBC Scotland ignore
the facts and go for two single cases of alleged failure.
child infection death story is an unsubstantiated case from 2017 fed to BBC
Scotland by a Labour politician. Hospital-acquired infection deaths are, of
course, much lower than they were under Labour administrations but longer-term
trends, of clear public interest, are not mentioned. The editorial decision to
use the picture of the Health Secretary, to call her ‘Freeman’ and to suggest personal failure in the wording recalls
the image of the First Minister and the Health Secretary on 12th
September clearly setting them up as the heads which must roll based on the
comments of a Conservative politician. The
story of ineffective treatments is about NHS England.
politicising of NHS Scotland is made abundantly clear just by comparison with
the work of BBC England and BBC Wales where the background presence of Tory and
Labour administrations means that politicians head never have to roll there,
and ‘guilty’ faces need not be associated with headlines.
Though I tend to question the need for conspiracies generally, you have to wonder if the rejection of real news of NHS Scotland’s success and the regular headlining scare stories of dying children, pigeon-infected hospitals and women in pain does not suggest one in the offices of BBC Scotland News.
Allegations emerged that a child died as a result of contamination at a Glasgow hospital.’
Now, it’s one case from 2017 based only on hearsay and there’s a later admission that a bacterial infection was [only] ‘a significant factor’ and thus the death was NOT as a result of the contamination.
Of course we hear nothing of the FACT that hospital acquired infections have fallen dramatically in the last ten years:
probably don’t need to tell you any of this, but the trail of blood goes all
the way back to January 20th:
droppings made national news that morning with the headline:
patients have died after contracting
a fungal infection caused by pigeon droppings.’
Scotland then had a longer piece headed:
patients have dies after falling
ill from an infection caused by pigeons.’
six sentences later did we hear, quietly inserted, that one patient had died
from ‘an unrelated cause’ and
that the other’s death was ‘being
headlines were only true in the chronological sense that these patients died
some time ‘after’ the
infections took place just as the deaths took place ‘after’ many other events in the preceding days.
Scotland ‘News’ continues to worry away at the story of pigeon droppings and
two deaths at the Southern General. One of the deaths was due to an unrelated matter and the other
is still being investigated, according
to the BBC’s own website this morning:
health board said one of the patients was elderly and had died from an
unrelated cause. The factors contributing to the death of the other patient are
Despite this, BBC Scotland along with most of the press, have been keen to suggest the fungal infection derived from the pigeon droppings is in some way implicated in the deaths and that the pigeon infestation is now an NHS Scotland crisis.
heard the deaths described as happening ‘after’ or ‘linked’ to the fungal infection. In most cases
the accurate account does find its way into reporting ‘after’ the
impression has been made.
the saturation headline coverage it would be surprising if the popular
impression was not that the pigeon dropping fungal infection had been the
actual cause of death. Anyhow, tonight, Jackie Bird, showing little avian solidarity,
deaths of two patients from a rare
was clearly inaccurate. The deaths were not from the
infection. At 10.30, Graham Stewart repeated the lie and that morning (22nd) it was to be repeated six times in the BBC Breakfast inserts.
complained and they apologised:
In the report, the emphases were on the death of a child and
the review announced that day by the Health Secretary into the construction and
design of the new flagship hospital itself, with examples of a number of issues
which had been causing concern about the building. On reflection we could perhaps have made it
clearer in our coverage that the second death had been unrelated to the
infection carried by pigeon droppings and I am grateful to you for raising the
point you have.
The apology was soon forgotten and in February:
Reporting Scotland returned to their long-running
campaign inflating a small number of hospital infections known to have been
only contributory factors in death to produce a crisis. They have repeated,
over and over, the notion that these deaths have come ‘after’ the
infections leaving viewers to make a causal connection which is clearly not
Alan Mather, Chief of Medicine told us, being careful to pause and to emphasise
the actual cause of the deaths:
was cluster of deaths of babies that were very premature and that’s the key element of this.’Sadly, three very premature
babies have died as a result ofthe prematurity but were also infected with this organism.’
He’s clearly saying that the extreme prematurity
killed the baby and, perhaps to get the reporter out of his hair, acknowledging
that it had an infection too which along with a number of other factors may
have played a part but
the baby died because it was very premature.
Then in June, clearly blood-starved, they tried to stir things up
‘A major inquiry into
Scotland’s biggest hospital tries to establish why staff are struggling to
control infection outbreaks.’
there were outbreaks of a fungal infection in two wards of a 1 677-bed, 1 109
patient room hospital in February 2019. There have been none reported since.
staff struggling? That there have been infections in only two of more than 1
000 places since the opening of the hospital in 2016, suggests otherwise. Further
it looks like the choice of the word ‘struggling’ is unique to Reporting
Scotland. It does not appear in the BBC Scotland website report nor does it
appear in any press reports.
is not good for any of us.
‘So, bombarding people with ‘sensationalized’ negativity does have
genuine and real psychological effects. Given this ‘cascading’ effect of
negativity into people’s personal lives, should TV schedulers be required to
consider such effects when preparing and scheduling programs containing
emotively negative content?’
opening quote from Psychology
Today in 2012, in some ways, makes the rest of my article redundant
such is its impact but I want to go on to make more clear my critique of BBC
Reporting Scotland’s current ‘weaponising’ of
NHS Scotland. First though it’s worth dwelling on the word ‘valenced’ above.
What this tells us is that the way the report is phrased is very
important. Where words like ‘crisis’ and ‘risk’ are used as they often are by
BBC Scotland to dramatise the reports, this can exacerbate the negative effects
beyond what a more restrained report on the same issue might do. BBC Scotland
might claim it is their duty to report on problems in NHS Scotland but what is
key here is how they
Also, from Psychology Today in 2012:
news on TV is increasing, but what are its psychological effects?’
found that those people who had watched the negative news bulletin spent more
time thinking and talking about their worry and were more likely to
catastrophise their worry than people in the other two groups.’
this report from Psychiatry,
based on research in Israel, is particularly concerning:
results suggest that a vast majority (87.2%) of the population tuned in to the
newscasts and the majority (76.7%) of viewers increased their news consumption
compared to normal. Increased frequency of viewing newscasts was associated with
reported anxiety reflected in uncontrolled fear, physiological hyperarousal,
sleeping difficulties, and fearful thoughts.
A regression model revealed that viewers watching the constant newscasts more
than usual are 1.6 times more likely to report at least one anxiety symptom
compared to those watching at the same frequency or less, standardized to
gender and age……Increased
viewing patterns of televised traumatic content, as well as negative perception
of such broadcasts, are associated with the report of anxiety symptoms or
particular worries triggered by health reports as opposed to the more obviously
traumatic images from war zones has also been demonstrated in Media Psychology
‘Results showed that the report
with mutilations caused by bacterial infection elicited more fear than the
report with mutilations caused by land mine explosions. This effect was
mediated by the dimensions of suddenness, unpleasantness, personal relevance,
and coping potential.’
explained already why only Type 1
departments can be compared with Scottish A&E departments and how
counting Type 2 (‘Elastoplast’) departments’
performance at 98% softens and confuses the overall average figure.
Scotland’s A&E is 19.86% better than 74.5% at 89.3%.
Scotland were keen to tell you that unemployment is higher, and employment is lower,
in Scotland than for the UK as a whole.
course, any fool knows there is no point in comparing a country of 5.4 million
with one of 65 million which contains within it one of the world’s megacities,
massively over-populated, centrally subsidised and economically overheated. Ignored
by BBC Scotland’s team of researchers and presenters, the full ONS data, below,
show us that Scotland has essentially the same unemployment rate as most of England
other than in the overheated south and better than in the North-East, London
and the Midlands. Scotland has the same employment rate as London and better
than that of the North-East, Yorkshire, N Ireland and Wales.
the SNP can stop them. I know it’s hard to stop voting Labour but put Ayrshire,
Carrick and Cumnock first.’
the Financial Times on October 30th
[T]he arrangements for Northern Ireland under
the Brexit deal — which keeps it in the EU’s customs union and elements of its
single market, while also guaranteeing Northern Irish businesses and farmers
“unfettered access” to the rest of the UK — could have far-reaching
consequences for Scotland. “Scotland will therefore not only lose the
benefits of EU, single market and customs union membership, but will also
be at a competitive disadvantage in relation to Northern Ireland,” it
said. This had the potential to destroy the seafood processing sector on
Scotland’s west coast.
So, to put it plainly, Northern Irish boats will have free access to fish in the same waters as Ayrshire boats but when their catches are landed and processed in Northern Ireland, they can then be exported to Europe without paying import tariffs, keeping their prices down and making them more attractive. Ayrshire boats will land their catches here and the processors and suppliers will have to pay import tariffs to sell in Europe making them more expensive for the same product and so less attractive.
Brexit will guarantee this. Don’t vote for them. They care nothing for the
people of South Ayrshire. Labour will come third again so don’t split the
Thanks to a parliamentary question on Monday, from Monica Lennon: ‘What minimum number of radiologists will be required to meet patient need in the next (a) five and (b) 10 years?’ we can see that radiology trainees have been increased by 30 per year to take the training establishment up by 75% to 179 in 2022.
YouGov’s poll on 7th and 8th November, has some interesting data on attitudes toward taxation and nationalisation which suggest quite clear differences between the people of Scotland and those of the South of England.
raising the basic tax rate to 21% to spend more on public services and
infrastructure, 43% of Scots supported this but only 33% of those in the South
of England would. At the higher rates, the gap was smaller, but Scots were more
supportive of the idea.
nationalising the energy companies, 51% of Scots supported the idea and only
19% opposed it but for those in the South of England the figures were 46% and
32%. Perhaps reflecting the chaos on the rails there, support for nationalising
the railways was equally strong in the South at 58%. Of course, Scots were
asked about nationalising already publicly owner water companies.
As large parts of England flood, the Scottish Government launches a new action plan to further improve the management of flood risk and I’m reminded of a 2016 report here in response to Reporting Scotland letting someone claim unchallenged that protection was better in England.
The new plan is here but there is a longer story to tell, below:
As far back as 2006, researchers at
the English College of Estates Management, whose patron is HRH Prince of Wales,
made a number of highly encouraging comments about the achievements of the
Labour-run Scottish Executive, SEPA and the Local Authorities:
‘In 1993, storms over Scotland
exceeded the severity of storms over the South-East of England, however little
damage resulted. This is because the Building (Scotland) Act, 2003 has
introduced tougher building standards, thus buildings in Scotland are constructed
to reflect the harsher conditions: and thus damage and subsequent insurance
claims are significantly reduced.
As far as flood protection is
concerned, unlike in England, the 1 in 200 year standard of protection is
‘universal’ for all new buildings, with a 1,000 year standard for such
vulnerable uses as old people’s homes, schools, hospitals etc.. In addition,
construction in flood hazard areas has almost completely ended. Crichton (2003:
26) estimates that “the active flood management programme currently in progress
will result in almost all high risk properties being protected against the
200-year flood within the next three years, taking climate change into
account.” It is also interesting to note that the Scottish Executive grants for
flood defences have never been refused on the grounds of budget restraints and
there is no rationing of flood defence spending.
It is clear, however, that the
more stringent building standards which are applied in Scotland ensure that
severe storms result in much less property damage than comparable events in
England. Also the level of flood protection and the commitment of funding to
achieve flood protection are higher in Scotland than in England.’
More recently, with SNP leadership,
the favourable comparison still seems to hold. Published research from the
esteemed Joseph Rowntree Foundation, in 2012, seems to support my first
impressions quite strongly:
‘Where English planning
regulations permit building in flood plains where there is no alternative,
Scottish Planning Policy does not permit building in areas in which ‘the flood
risk exceeds the 200-year return period’, i.e. where in any year there is a
greater than 0.5 per cent probability of flooding. Scotland has stronger
regulations governing the capacity of sewage and drainage systems for new
building. It also has stronger minimum standards for flood defences. Building
regulations ensuring flood resilience in the housing stock are more developed.
Scottish planners, through Flood Liaison and Advice Groups, are engaged with
local communities, the emergency services, insurers and other interested
parties in drawing up flood plans. The differences in regulatory regimes
between England and Scotland are reflected in the number of households that are
at risk of flooding, and the resilience of communities in responding to those
The level of investment will be one
factor in these differences. In recent years, spending in England and Wales has
declined seriously after significant increases under Labour in 1997 to 2010, as
revealed in a UK Parliament Briefing Paper from 2015:
‘Central Government spending on
flood defence in 2010-11 was cut soon after the Coalition Government was
formed. Spending was reduced in one year by £30 million or 5%. In the 2010
Comprehensive Spending Review (2011-12 to 2014-15), a total of £2.17 billion in
central government funding was provided for flood and coastal defence. This
represented “a six percent fall in central government funding”, The Committee
on Climate Change calculated that this represented a real term cut of around
20% compared to the previous spending period.’
In sharp contrast, for Scotland, we
see in a Scottish Parliament Committee Paper for 2014-2015, evidence of
‘With regard to flood
protection and alleviation, the Committee welcomes the cash terms increases in
the funding available to SEPA, and to the Natural Assets and Flooding
budget, both of which sit in the RAE portfolio. The Committee believes that,
due to climate change, severe weather events will become increasingly likely in
Scotland in years to come, and it is therefore essential that flood forecasting
and warning systems be as accurate and robust as possible. The Committee
welcomes the increased funding for flood forecasting and warning in the RAE
portfolio and recommends that the Scottish Government continue to ensure
sufficient funding is available to improve flood forecasting and warning
systems, to ensure greater consistency across the whole of Scotland.’
As for more recent evidence of superiority in the Scottish system, see this at the Scottish government site and little (surprise, surprise) MSM coverage of it at the time:
‘£42 million a year plan over
the next decade.
More than 10,000 families are
to benefit from a ten year strategy to protect homes in many of Scotland’s most
flood-prone communities. The plan is the result of grant funding totalling £420
million and follows an agreement reached between the Scottish Government and
COSLA. The cash will be used to deliver 40 new flood protection projects and
support local flood risk management plans. More than 130 flood protection
studies will be carried out to help find potential solutions for another 26,000
residential properties currently at risk. The announcement came as the First
Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, fulfilled her pledge to return to Newton Stewart
following an earlier visit in the aftermath of flooding at Hogmanay.’
So, unlike the UK Government, the
Scottish Government has maintained or bettered the investment and the
sophistication in flood prevention here. Had I been writing in 2006, the
Labour-controlled Scottish Executive would have rightly claimed any credit for
performance north of the border. In 2016, the SNP-controlled Scottish
Parliament can do the same. Will BBC Scotland allow them to do it? They clearly
didn’t in the run-up to General Election in 2016 so I doubt it.
There you have it, my attempt to
shore up our defence plans against a flood of BBC bias (See what I did there,
again, again?) as we approach the UK Monsoon season.
private healthcare consultancy from Boston is working with NHS Scotland to
increase efficiency. Don’t Tories like increases in efficiency? Is the hypocrisy
really on show here, once more, in the Boris
Express? The Institute for Healthcare
Improvement is, importantly, not delivering any part of the NHS in Scotland’s
frontline services but, hey, the Express doesn’t tell you that. The Express
only tells us that the contract is worth millions but, of course don’t tell you
just how much nor what percentage of the total expenditure of £12.2 BILLION it
important, however, the Express won’t be telling its readers any of these FACTS,
just the most recent, revealing NHS Scotland as the best in the UK and one of
the best in the world: