Superhospital pigeons: Will BBC Scotland repeat the same lies again that they apologised for last year?

On 24th January 2019, I wrote to BBC Complaints saying:

‘With regard to deaths at the QEU Hospital in Glasgow, Lisa Summers said: ‘It became clear that two patients had died as a result of this particular infection.’ This is patently untrue. In one case, the patient absolutely did not die as ‘a result of’ the infection’ but because of ‘an unrelated cause’. In the other case it was as, Lisa put it later ‘contributory’. The infection was found in the blood stream of the second patient but clearly this death was also not ‘as a result of’ the infection.’

On 11th February after apologies for delay, they replied at some length, essentially waffling and attempting to screen the lies with redundant comment.

The full response is below but the key points remain:

1.      The use of the inaccurate and misleading phrase ‘as a result of’ in the case of the child death where the infection was a contributory factor is not excused by it having been said in a live interview.

2.      The use of the inaccurate and misleading phrase ‘as a result of’ requires correction and is not sorted with subsequent qualification. You cannot qualify a lie.

3.      The use of the inaccurate and misleading phrase ‘as a result of’ in the case of the adult who died from unrelated causes required correction and cannot be sorted by mere clarification.

Full Response:
Dear Professor Robertson

Reference CAS-5285534-0H3SQ7

Dear Professor Robertson

Thank you for your correspondence regarding Reporting Scotland. Your comments were passed to the Editor, Reporting Scotland, who has asked that I forward their response as follows:

“Thank you for being in touch about the teatime edition on 22nd January.This is what we said in the Jackie Bird introduction to a report from our health correspondent: “Good evening. The Health Secretary has confirmed that a rare infection linked to pigeon droppings was a contributory factor in the death of a child at Scotland’s flagship hospital. There is now to be an investigation into the construction and design of Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth university hospital. But Labour has criticised the way the case has been handled and said there’d been a complete lack of clarity from the health board about the infection. Here’s our Health Correspondent, Lisa Summers.”That was accurate. The background to the report is that the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, had revealed in the Scottish Parliament that day that an infection carried in pigeon droppings had been contracted by a ten-year-old boy and had been a contributory factor in his death. She said that an elderly patient had also contracted the infection but had died from an unrelated condition. We only spoke about the death of the child in the headline, intro and piece.In the studio live, Lisa was actually giving details of the way the information had been released by the health board over the previous weekend and the lack of clarity that there had been. In a fuller version than the words you quote she said: “You can understand why patients would be very concerned about what’s happened because of the way that information has become public. At first the health board said that two patients were being treated for a fungal infection. It was Saturday night before it became clear that two patients had died as a result of this particular fungal infection related to pigeon’s droppings”.

The point she was trying to make was about the lack of clarity, but in what was, I reiterate, a live interview, it did not quite come out as intended. But Lisa immediately went on to qualify that by saying: “They (the health board) said then [i.e., on the Saturday] that in one case investigations were ongoing as to whether the infection was connected to the death of the second patient”. She then gave the latest on that day’s developments: “It was only today that we had confirmation that in fact a post mortem in December of a child had confirmed it to be a contributory factor so you can understand the kind of widespread concern about it and that’s why in a way the investigation [into the construction and design of the hospital] is extremely important”.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, of course, only to me. No public retraction was made.

4 thoughts on “Superhospital pigeons: Will BBC Scotland repeat the same lies again that they apologised for last year?

  1. Give ABC all official data on no.of cases and deaths both in Scotland and England from ease of lock down on 1.6.20 to date
    Which clearly demonstrate without any ambiguity whatsoever that

    1.SHNS is by a mile out performing EHNS
    in every area and especially deaths from this virus
    After all we are not talking about 1 or 2 here
    It is thousands of deaths and much more to follow
    2. The under and misleading reporting of
    New infections in England
    3.The massive divergence in new infections between Scotland and England
    And ridiculously so in our favour
    Remind them that if we were Independent and of sane mind there would be the strictest of controls at our borders
    And while we are at it remind them of their Founding DUTY
    To educate and inform
    Failure to respond WILL be treated as a open admission of failure to adhere to their responsibilities and duties to all
    UK citizens
    And merely demonstrate that they are far from balanced and honesty in their methodology
    And their Modus Operandi appears to be
    To operate as a propaganda channel for
    Twisted,miss construed information and for purposes not conducive to that of a modern civilised democracy
    In fact they are becoming a affront to the basics of Humanity
    Judgement awaits

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I found this very funny from the Matlis one.

      The BBC must uphold the highest standards of due impartiality in its news output.

      You could have fooled me,as they say pull the other one.


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