Herald finds one ‘Spanish’ doctor to say the right thing for them about NHS Scotland’s recovery

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: https://www.gov.scot/publications/foi-19-00620/

NHS Scotland has 20% more consultants per head of population than NHS England: https://talkingupscotlandtwo.com/2020/03/08/pension-rules-having-little-effect-on-nhs-scotland-staffing-with-20-more-consultants-and-25-more-gps/

Previous Performance:

Typically in NHS Scotland, only 2% or less of operations are ever cancelled due to lack of staff or resources: https://talkingupscotlandtwo.com/2020/04/07/stunning-nhs-scotland-performance-with-only-2-of-operations-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.’ https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bjs.11151

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: https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/files/2017-07/learning-from-scotland-s-nhs-final.pdf

9 thoughts on “Herald finds one ‘Spanish’ doctor to say the right thing for them about NHS Scotland’s recovery

  1. May i suggest that he goes and takes a wee look at EHNS
    And I sure he would find that they have collapsed and like the boxer upon the canvas
    Awaits the ref.reaching 10
    That is about the only possible conclusion he can arrive at especially if he is to use his appraisal of SHNS as a benchmark

    Liked by 1 person

  2. To be fair if you read the article and extract his quotes from it and the information he gives you get a quite different picture from the one suggested by the headline and Ms McArdle’s padding between the quotes.

    Firstly we all know there will be a backlog. No one could think otherwise. But Mr Baines and his colleagues continued to deal with emergencies during the crisis.

    Secondly they have used the time to think about and put in place new ways of working that will allow them to manage patients while protecting them and staff from Covid-19. These new working conditions will, of necessity, result in a reduction in the throughput of patients. Things like surgeons having to put on full PPE and work in it may extend the time it takes to do an operation which in turn will reduce the number of operations they can do in a day/week.

    They have thought about the patients they will prioritise. Day surgery cases will be first off the blocks. Patients will be contacted before their OP and asked to self-isolate for 14 days before their op. The Golden Jubilee is classed as Covid-lite and this is one way of maintaining that status.

    All of this and more was in the article but instead of passing on the information from Mr Baines in a straightforward manner that would have gone someway to reassure the patients on the waiting list the Herald chose another route as usual.

    It is unfair of you to single out the doctor for criticism real or implied – what does his nationality have to do with anything – when you know full well how the Herald operates.


    1. Did he not single himself out?

      Might he have a political agenda? Connections? That has been the case with others before.

      His nationality? Not growing up here might limit his understanding and should make him more hesitant of making such claims?

      Imagine a Scots-born medic in Spain going to the media to warn of problems.


      1. No he did not ‘single himself out’ . This whole article reads to me like a press conference/press release whose main purpose was to tell people/prospective patients that things were starting up again and what that would entail. The fact that the article also contains direct quotes from the CEO of the hospital and information about cancer ops and diagnostic tests lends weight to the press conference/release idea. .

        There was one quote from the doctor about the lengthening of waiting lists because of Covid-19 which he also said is a worldwide problem. The Herald were the ones to highlight this aspect of what he said but it was not by any means the main thrust of his remarks. Furthermore not to have mentioned the impact on waiting lists would have been stupid. Everyone and their dug knows that the impact of Covid is across the board. But what the article shows is that the doctors and other staff are starting up again and cautiously as anyone would expect. There is nothing in his remarks that infers/implies/suggests a political agenda on his part

        What claims has he made and what does his nationality have to do with it? Your distortion of the article bringing these things into it is every bit as bad as Ms McArdle and the Herald’s headline focussing on what was a very small part of the information being imparted.


      2. You appear to have a lack of understanding of the many and varied method’s of propaganda
        In this instance what appears to be a small acorn has been deposited in what they hope that other propagandists pick it up
        And deposit upon more fertile ground
        Where from their point of view it grows into
        Not a mighty oak
        But hopefully forms a mighty bough of their own oak
        Some refer to this method. I shall make the bullet
        You load and fire
        Know Thy Foes


    2. Thanks for this, Legerwood.

      I agree that this looks like an example of the Herald, ‘mining’ a story to find something which can be presented out of context, initially, as ‘bad’, to frame the story and to evoke a particular mindset.

      Because, as you indicate, the other information is later in the article, they will claim with cynical innocence that they have reported objectively. However, like all propagandists they know that the first impression is hard to dislodge and that few people read through the article to the end, as you did.


  3. The article

    A LEADING orthopaedic surgeon has said it will “be years” before NHS waiting lists recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic.
    Mr Joe Baines, the clinical lead for the orthopaedic team at the Golden Jubilee hospital in Clydebank, which treats NHS patients from across Scotland, is preparing restart elective surgeries for the first time next Wednesday.
    Since the coronavirus outbreak took off in March, Mr Baines and orthopaedic colleagues have been limited to operating on emergency cases only, such as patients who had broken a bone around their hip replacement or developed infections.
    He said clearing the backlog of patients waiting for joint replacements will be “very challenging”.
    Mr Baines said: “If you look at what was already happening in terms of the waiting times, they were on their way up already.
    “So three months of doing very little or nothing and then six months of a slower pace, is going to be a huge challenge – more than anything for patients who are going to be waiting longer and in pain.
    “We will be working harder as well and probably more flexibly to try to get as much as we can from what we’ve got. But it’s worldwide.
    “I don’t think there is any scope for going elsewhere for treatments because this is hitting every country.”
    “The impact on patients will be serious, but I think it’s going to be years before we recover,” he added.
    Requirements for enhanced infection control between operations and use of personal protective gear (PPE), which slow surgeons down, mean the Jubilee team will only be able to carry out nine procedures a week at first, compared to the normal 20.
    Priority will be given initially to patients under 70 who are at lower risk from Covid infection, starting with day case operations before hip and knee replacements resume later in July.
    “It’s a balance between Covid risk and clinical need,” said Mr Baines.
    We are starting with simpler things, just to test the reliability of our systems really.
    “So we’re going to start with day case operations, things where patients don’t have to stay overnight – such as keyhole operations, foot and ankle operations, and hands.
    “Within two or three weeks we will build it up to hip and knee replacements.
    “But we are choosing first those patients who are at a lower risk of contracting Covid: patients without underlying health conditions and under the age of 70.
    “Before the pandemic, what would be normal for us would be to have five theatres every day of the week doing four joint replacements in each one of those theatres.
    “In the restart we’ll be doing three per theatre and we’re only going to have three theatres running at the beginning. Its going to be more of a gradual build up.”

    Although the Golden Jubilee admitted some Covid patients to its intensive care wards early in the outbreak as beds ran out in neighbouring health boards, it is now considered to be a ‘Covid-free’ or ‘Covid-light’ space.
    This means many cancer operations – such as bladder and colon – which would normally have taken place in major acute hospitals can be performed at the Golden Jubilee instead, which has only previously carried out lung cancer surgery.
    Cancer patients are particularly at risk from serious or fatal complications if they catch coronavirus around the time of surgery.
    As a result, some cancer patients requiring less complex surgery – such as breast and skin cancer – have also been sent by the NHS to private hospitals, where there are no Covid patients.
    From July 1, planned heart and lung surgery, cataracts removals, and a range of diagnostic tests will also resume at the Golden Jubilee – but all patients will have to quarantine themselves beforehand.
    Mr Baines said: “Before patients come and have treatment here, the first thing we’ll do is speak to them over videolink or on the phone to explain what is going to happen and to discuss the risk of Covid.”
    “They will be asked to self-isolate for two weeks before coming in and on their admission they will undergo a Covid test.”
    “When they come into the building it will look a little bit different. There will be a one way system to facilitate physical distancing, and staff will be wearing PPE more so than in the past – masks, gloves, and aprons.”
    “The aim is to ensure the safety of staff and patients.”
    Jann Gardner, chief executive of NHS Golden Jubilee, said: “[We are] well placed to start to accelerate treatment for patients who have been waiting for diagnostic or surgical care during the pandemic.
    “We have not only redesigned existing services, but have added new specialties to the Golden Jubilee portfolio so that we can help reduce the number of people across Scotland waiting for appointments and treatment for heart disease, cancer, hip and knee replacements, cataracts, general surgery and diagnostic interventions such as endoscopies.”
    “To allow us to do this, we have created two new wards and will be opening these as soon as possible.
    “We are also accelerating our planned expansion to enable the opening of six new ophthalmology theatres, which will be available from September.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.