Here we go again. A single medic is prepared to say something worrisome about NHS Scotland for the Herald and Helen McArdle can brew it up into another of her crises. She’ll make herself ill with this kind of behaviour.

Anyhow, the medic in question, Mr Joe Baines, was born in Pamplona so you’d think he’d be familiar with avoiding bullshit but here he is in the Herald. How did that happen? Did he approach them with his story? Did a politician winkle him out after hearing him complain? Is he related?

Do you think the Herald editor might say:

‘No we need more than just one guy to make any claims.’

Don’t be daft.

Anyhow, again, with the greatest respect, having grown up in Spain, perhaps Baines can be excused for not knowing much about NHS Scotland and its overall resilience.

McArdle has been on this theme before. She’s nothing if not repetitive. In April, we heard:

What I wrote then still holds:

Anyhow, what evidence [yes, facts, that stuff?] is there that NHS Scotland will recover? Three kinds of evidence: Staffing level, previous performance, government support.

Staffing Level:

NHS Scotland has 50% more nurses per head of population than NHS England:

NHS Scotland has 20% more consultants per head of population than NHS England:

Previous Performance:

Typically in NHS Scotland, only 2% or less of operations are ever cancelled due to lack of staff or resources:

The WHO in 2019 said: Scotland’s health system is to be congratulated for a multi-year effort that has produced some of the largest population-wide reductions in surgical deaths ever documented.’

Government Support:

Scotland has a unique system of improving the quality of health care. It focuses on engaging the altruistic professional motivations of frontline staff to do better, and building their skills to improve. Success is defined based on specific measurements of safety and effectiveness that make sense to clinicians.

Scotland’s smaller size as a country supports a more personalised, less formal approach than in England. The Scottish NHS has also benefited from a continuous focus on quality improvement over many years. It uses a consistent, coherent method where better ways of working are tested on a small scale, quickly changed, and then rolled out. Unlike in the rest of the UK, this is overseen by a single organisation that both monitors the quality of care and also helps staff to improve it.

Research Report, July 2017, Learning from Scotland’s NHS at: