BBC Scotland’s proxy war against the SNP is now in election mode and the Health Secretary is first in line

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Politically-motivated exploitation of personal trauma and the transfer of responsibility from a contractor to a party
An earlier victim of sustained fire from the Scottish news media and their political feeders
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BBC England headline flooding and BBC Wales headline drug abuse. Neither use images of allegedly failed politicians

As 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.

The 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.

The 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.

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No heads need roll in the Labour Party
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No heads need roll in the Conservative Party

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.

Reporting Scotland’s bloodlust for dead patients continues unsated for nearly a year and it’s not good for you

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Today, we heard:

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:

I probably don’t need to tell you any of this, but the trail of blood goes all the way back to January 20th:

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Pigeon droppings made national news that morning with the headline:

‘Two patients have died after contracting a fungal infection caused by pigeon droppings.’

BBC Scotland then had a longer piece headed:

‘Two patients have dies after falling ill from an infection caused by pigeons.’

Only 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 investigated.’

The 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.

Two days later:

BBC 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:

‘The 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 being investigated.’

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.

We’ve 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.

Given 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, said:

 ‘[T]he deaths of two patients from a rare fungal infection.’

This 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.

I 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 there.

Dr Alan Mather, Chief of Medicine told us, being careful to pause and to emphasise the actual cause of the deaths:

‘There 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 of the 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 with:

 ‘A major inquiry into Scotland’s biggest hospital tries to establish why staff are struggling to control infection outbreaks.’

Remember 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.

Were 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.

This 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?’

This 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 do so.

Also, from Psychology Today in 2012:

‘Negative news on TV is increasing, but what are its psychological effects?’

‘We 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.’

Further this report from Psychiatry, based on research in Israel, is particularly concerning:

‘The 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 psychopathology.’

The particular worries triggered by health reports as opposed to the more obviously traumatic images from war zones has also been demonstrated in Media Psychology in 2014:

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.’

To conclude, BBC Reporting Scotland, please think about the ethical basis for your current campaign against NHS Scotland. Surely, you do not want to be associated with this collateral damage.

‘Worst-ever’ NHS England A&E performance is nearly 20% worse than NHS Scotland

Will you take over NHS England, please?

As Reporting Scotland headline an alleged child death from a hospital infection, everywhere else in the BBC is headlining the worst ever A&E performances and even understating the crisis.

In NHS Scotland A&E departments, in October 2019, 89.3% were seen within 4 hours.

In NHS England Type 1 A&E departments, only 74.5% were seen within 4 hours. The figure for all departments was 83.6%

I’ve 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.

NHS Scotland’s A&E is 19.86% better than 74.5% at 89.3%.

Scotland’s unemployment rate same or better than comparable parts of UK but BBC Scotland won’t tell you that

Reporting Scotland were keen to tell you that unemployment is higher, and employment is lower, in Scotland than for the UK as a whole.

Of 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.

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How the South Ayrshire Tories will sacrifice our fishing and fish processing industry

(c) Don McDougall

Thanks to Kathleen Barr for alerting me to this.

‘Only the SNP can stop them. I know it’s hard to stop voting Labour but put Ayrshire, Carrick and Cumnock first.’

From the Financial Times on October 30th 2019:

[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.

Tory 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 anti-Tory vote.

Trainee radiologist numbers in Scotland up 75% in only 5 years to meet demand

(c) Fairmount

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.

Earlier reports on radiology staffing showing lack of crisis in Scotland contrary to some media reports:

Radiography staffing vacancies running at ‘healthy’ 5% in Scotland

Contrary to this morning’s Reporting Scareland, Scotland has more than its share of Radiology Consultants

45% more radiologists for NHS Scotland under SNP

‘The Royal College of Radiologists says ‘Scotland is spending more per head’, according to BBC England. BBC Scotland is too busy to report it or has just missed it, allegedly.

Progressive, leftist values: Scotland and the Deep South

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.

On 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.

On 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.

This has given me the excuse to revisit the notion of differences in dominant values which, I realise, are not necessary for independence but, I’d argue, make it more needed. Here are a few of them:

Scotland drifting away from nasty place as SNP Government launches funeral benefit for those on low income

Different NHS Scotland and Wales reject England’s hostile environment for vulnerable migrant mothers-to-be

Scotland IS a different place as its universities offer guaranteed places to care leavers

Abuse of women and the disabled far higher in England than in Scotland

Less homicide, less knife crime, less domestic violence, safer cities and now much lower alcohol problems: should Scotland’s old stereotypes be sent south?

Racial hate crimes increase by 33% in England & Wales while falling by 10% in Scotland: Who says we’re not different?

Scottish Muslim students far less likely to report abuse or crime?

Only in Scotland! ‘A review of small country’s approaches to public policy reform in response to economic, demographic and other pressures found that only in Scotland could this ‘golden thread’ be so clearly discerned’

With 1 in 4 living wage employers already in Scotland, the Scottish Government aims to make this a ‘Living Wage Nation’

8% of the UK population and 28% of living wage employers. More evidence that we are different enough to want to run the whole show?

80 000 lowest paid workers in NHS England still on poverty wages as NHS Scotland follows Scottish Government policy to pay a living wage to all public-sector employees

Scottish care workers to receive Living Wage for ‘sleepover’ hours while English care workers receive only the National Minimum Wage.

Different Scotland in the UN report on ‘Workhouse Britain’

Scottish values making oil and gas firms a tad different too?

Are Scotland’s employers also different – more willing to pay a decent wage?

With 1 in 4 living wage employers already in Scotland, the Scottish Government aims to make this a ‘Living Wage Nation’

8% of the UK population and 28% of living wage employers. More evidence that we are different enough to want to run the whole show?

Another difference as UK small and medium-sized business people prefer Boris while Scots prefer…

Another difference between Scotland and rUK?

Scottish Government support for small businesses superior to that in non-Scottish parts of UK

Comparing Storm and Flood Protection in Scotland and England

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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 risks.’

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 increasing investment:

‘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.


College of Estates Management at:

UK Parliament Briefing Paper at:

Scottish Parliament Paper at:

Scottish Act on Control of Flood water at:

WWF Report at:

Professor Penning-Rowsell at: http://evidence.environment-

Recent tweets: Election, sickbait, diptheria and Russian Tory donors

The ‘Scottish’ Express in a desperate attempt to mislead their readers as SNP surge in polls

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A 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 might be.

More 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:

Scottish Tories help us report private surgery is TEN TIMES higher per head of population and ‘soaring’ in ‘enfeebled’ NHS England. You guessed. It’s FALLING here under SNP

Increased doctor and nurse training in NHS Scotland

Dear Boris: Despite 5.6% increase in demand NHS Scotland A&E departments hold steady and were 16% better than NHS England in September

Dear Boris: NHS Scotland largest reductions in surgical deaths EVER documented!

SNP tell Boris they can manage NHS England for him as temporary nurse spending soars there to nearly THREE times higher per head of population than in Scotland

Cancer mortality rates in Scotland continue to fall as NHS Scotland treats more and faster

NHS Scotland hovers around near perfect efficiency as cancelled operations hold at only 2%

Dear Reporting Scotland Down, NHS Scotland A&E Services have improved performance despite surging demand

Dear Boris, NHS Scotland A&E services treat more than 90% within target despite 17% increase in demand and 15% more than NHS England can

NHS Scotland beats drug and alcohol treatment target for three years and Reporting Scotland ignores it for the same period

Reporting Scotland Down misses more Scottish cancer patients treated within target time ahead of NHS England

NHS England urged to follow Scotland’s more inclusive bowel screening and save thousands of lives but it’s not newsworthy here

NHS Scotland increasing mental health discharges by 33% in 10 years with 95% treated near to home

As NHS England denies single women Scotland’s IVF service is 100%

Scottish Lib Dems fume as NHS England told to copy NHS Scotland?

Different NHS Scotland and Wales reject England’s hostile environment for vulnerable migrant mothers-to-be

Jeanne Freeman demolishes Miles Briggs by revealing that NHS England is short of 25 times as many beds as NHS Scotland is

Are there fewer crime assaults against NHS Scotland staff because they’re more effective and better staffed?

Talking-up Scotland

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So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly arise and make them miserable. - Aldous Huxley

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