I write to complain about the poor quality of BBC Reporting Scotland’s coverage today (4th February 2020) of the installation of sepsis monitors in a Glasgow hospital.

The first, less serious and more subjective comment is that the report spent far too much time interviewing the mother of a child who had died previously in that hospital and did so in a manner which focused insensitively on her trauma with close-ups on her tearful face and dwelling on her emotion-choked words. I appreciate that news reports should communicate the personal consequences of events, but this was overdone and to my mind tasteless in a manner we might expect in the Daily Mail.

The second concern, more serious and, given the BBC’s charter and published editorial guidelines, objective, comment is that the report failed entirely to inform the viewer on important contextual matters – How common are deaths due to sepsis in Scottish hospitals? Is the level of mortality increasing or reducing? Is the level in Scottish hospitals comparable to that in other parts of the UK?

With only minutes of online research, I was able to answer all three questions. The rate is around 1 300 per year. The rate has fallen by 21% since 2014. The rate in Scotland is less than half, per capita, of that in other parts of the UK. I can provide the sources but feel sure BBC Scotland staff could have done the same easily.


John Robertson