Audit Scotland goes beyond its abilities and remit based on shoddy evidence to help BBC Scotland’s weaponizing of NHS Scotland

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A large, reliable, representative, randomised sample? If we needed one of those we’d never be able to criticise NHS Scotland!

Under the online headline: NHS in Scotland could face £1.8bn ‘shortfall’ without reform, says watchdog, we read, and hear headlined on Reporting Scotland Down:

Audit Scotland’s annual report said the NHS was “seriously struggling to become financially sustainable”. Auditor General Caroline Gardner said the integration of health and social care was too slow and staff were under intense pressure.

and then:

The pressures are getting more and more severe every year. That puts a lot of pressure on people working in the health service and it also damages confidence.

I don’t doubt that the London-born, Wolverhampton Borough-trained accountant, has spotted underfunding and some staff shortages (easy?), in some areas, but I seriously doubt her competence and her intentions in making the above claims because, as far as I can see, the ‘evidence’ for them comes only from elite interviews (anecdotes) and unreliable, tiny-sample, self-selecting surveys carried out by partisan organisations such as the royal colleges and the BMA, seeking primarily to serve their members’ interests. Despite her fine title, her grasp of research methods seems poor. Here are three earlier assessment reports on her failures:

Audit Scotland’s Nursery provision report based on flawed methodology and naïve assumptions. Tories and Labour joyful as they feast on it.

National Audit Offices bows to SNP’s superior statistics

Audit Scotland’s Limited Ability to Comment on the Scottish NHS

The AG is also inconsistent in her findings. We find Audit Scotland saying quite different things depending on the sources they have used. See:

Despite massive increases in demand, NHS Scotland maintains performance levels extremely close to the most rigorous of targets and patient satisfaction is at an all-time high. Audit Scotland say: ‘There were no significant weaknesses in the overall quality of care being provided.’

National auditors find two very different NHS systems in the UK. Someone tell Theresa today.

The Auditor General strongly, with no qualifications, commends the Scottish Government on its ‘sound’ management of the economy. The lowest under-spend since devolution.

Footnote: Gardiner has only a qualification in accountancy.

An accountant is a practitioner of accounting or accountancy, which is the measurement, disclosure or provision of assurance about financial information that helps managers, investors, tax authorities and others make decisions about allocating resource(s).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accountant

Published by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

8 thoughts on “Audit Scotland goes beyond its abilities and remit based on shoddy evidence to help BBC Scotland’s weaponizing of NHS Scotland

  1. The Health Secretary has said Scotland’s NHS will not face a £1.8 billion black hole, despite projections in a recent report. Speaking to Shite Morning Scotland today, Jeane Freeman welcomed the “fair” report from Audit Scotland but predicted that her department would lower the projected deficit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not a rhetorical question. Anybody know?

    Is the sort of process used to hire current head of Scottish Civil Service or even was that person part of the process of hiring her?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi M. le Panda. I don’t know the appointment process but there is some kind of Board for Audit Scotland. Caroline Gardner does seem pretty well qualified for the post – Link below to a bio piece about her from Holyrood Magazine. She seems highly committed to Scotland having lived and worked here since 1995. She worked with the precursor organisation (pre-devo) and was, over time, promoted to Depute Auditor General for Scotland.

    She took a secondment to Turks and Caicos Islands role when the govt there had essentially collapsed under various corruption, incompetence, money laundering and narcotics-dealing scandals. Presumably she would have worked to some degree with ‘Intelligence’ services during that period – but it was probably a pretty tough shift that she was putting in during that role in all fairness. She returned to Scotland and applied for and was appointed to the Auditor General post when Robert Black retired. Without any evidence to the contrary being presented it would strike me that Caroline Gardiner is a dedicate Public Servant with relevant experience and expertise and a long-standing commitment to Scotland and the good governance of Scotland. Probably the role/remit of the post is a bit wide-ranging and would tax (accidental pun) any professional appointed to it – whether from an accountancy or other occupational background.

    Making judgements on the “pressure” (psychological, financial, professional) that some larger, some smaller and all fairly disparate professional and other staff groups are experiencing within a very large Service such as NHS Scotland – without very considerable questionnaire surveys and other long-term and deep plunge info gathering processes – is, with the best will in the world, a form of guesswork – nothing more and nothing less.

    There undoubtedly is a lot of ‘pressure’ of one sort or another being experienced by the total NHS Scotland Service and workforce but it is delivering high quality services by the day and by the hour and minute – all day, every day.

    Making estimates about future financial pressures is difficult – but – estimating that the Westminster austerity infatuation will impact on the ability to improve the services offered by NHS Scotland over the coming years is probably a pretty safe bet. We all know the solution to that problem, don’t we? Bairns or Bombs – people of Scotland – It’s our CHOICE.

    https://www.holyrood.com/news/view,when-the-auditor-calls_14335.htm

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I no longer bother with either STV or BBBC particularly about the Scottish Health Service .
    By accident I have ended up with the NHS sending it’s news and findings to my e-mail and the latest one is about the future progress , ideas and developments.
    My husband visits many departments as a patient and we cannot speak highly enough of the care and treatment .
    Personal experience measures the SNHS and doesn’t find it wanting – the Scottish media are getting on my wick and I’m sure the doctors , nurses , porters , cleaners and patients feel much the same way!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I won’t hear a bad word about our marvelous NHS…without them l simply wouldn’t be here they have saved my life on two occassions now and managed to nurse me back to full health…l’d just like to say a big thank you to all the dedicated staff in our wonderful National Health Service…

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Reports by bodies such as the Auditor General about the impacts of various aspects of policies are essential for good governance and have to have a degree of independence, and, on the whole, I think that these bodies do their jobs pretty well. On the whole I think that the Auditor general’s reports have been pretty competent and in her response, Ms Jeanne Freeman appeared quite relaxed and faced the questions pretty calmly.

    Where we have problems is, as always, in the selection of specific data and presenting them out of context. The same goes for vox pops and interviews. These can be edited to focus on particular ‘sound bites’, again, without a wider context.

    Liked by 1 person

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