BBC Scotland’s response to the above complaint is below with some remarkable statements and/or adolescent fibs in bold:
Dear Prof Robertson
Thank your forr contacting us. Your comments were passed to the Editor, Reporting Scotland, who has asked that we forward their response as follows:
“Thank you for being in touch about the lunchtime edition on 3rd August.
The intro accurately stated that patients in chronic pain said they were being abandoned and were being forced to travel in agony for costly treatment in England, because they could not get access here. Pain relief services, it said, were put on hold four months ago to ready the NHS for the Covid-19 response. It added that the Health Secretary said that pain services would be resumed as quickly as it was safe to do so.
In the report, two patients who were suffering were featured. They were representative of a number of people who were asked about their experiences. In a report lasting just a few minutes in a lunchtime bulletin you would not expect more than “only two” people to be featured. These representative case studies were backed up by the stories we heard from others, many of whom did not want to go on camera. That does not invalidate the information they provide to a reporter or reporters following up a story.
The Scottish Government acknowledged that patients travelled to England. The national clinical director, Professor Jason Leitch, knew that patients travelled to England: he said on our programme “I do not want people to have to spend their own money or to go private or have to travel – I want the correct care for the correct people to be given in each health board in Scotland”.
A statement by the Health Secretary was read out, lasting 15 seconds, and there was a 27-second clip of the national clinical director – so the Scottish Government’s position was well represented: there were repeated, unsuccessful requests to interview the minister – hence the statement. The Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon MSP spoke for 20 seconds about reimbursing travellers for their costs.
I am not sure how relevant a person’s alleged party loyalty might be when they are a patient in great pain. The phrase “well-known activist and associate of the Scottish Labour Party” tells one little. I should add that Ms Lennon had to tweet out that one of the patients – presumably the one to whom you refer – was not a family member as was being claimed on Twitter. This is an example of where great care has to be exercised in interpreting events and actions.
I cannot therefore agree with your contention that the investigative method was unethical: people make stories, we talk to people, they tell us their stories, we tell them to you. The Scottish Government had no complaint to make about the way in which we approached this story. Indeed, they clearly recognised that it was important, if you listen to what they said.
To describe the two contributors as “samples” of what you claim is a million chronic pain sufferers which are not “reliable” is, I believe, fundamentally to misunderstand what we do. We talk to many people, patients and clinicians, and build a human story. We tell many other stories where proportions, percentages, statistics are the main topic. This was not one of them.
Thank you again for your interest in our output.”
BBC Complaints Team
I can’t be bothered marking this one. Readers?