Neil Mackay calls us ‘terminally dim!’ Good one!

Ha! We know where the trust is draining.

Neil Mackay, the British Irish investigative journalist, at the Stock Photo  - Alamy

Neil Mackay opens with this:

NICOLA Sturgeon is burning up her most valuable asset, trust, through her handling of the toxic and protracted Alex Salmond saga. This self-destruction couldn’t come at a worse time – for the country that is, not the First Minister or the SNP. Political careers and party fortunes mean nothing when weighed against the wellbeing of a nation. The Scottish Government’s handling of coronavirus hasn’t been that much better than the UK Government. We all know that – it’s only the brutally partisan or terminally dim who believe otherwise.

We’re brutally partisan or terminally dim?

I am partisan but that’s OK if you use evidence to back up your position. Everyone is partisan really. Some are too dim to know it.

If you use evidence that makes it hard for others to call you dim. Mackay has no evidence, so?

So, trust? Mackay’s colleague, Helen McArdle wrote two weeks ago of research in the Lancet:

NICOLA Sturgeon is one of the few political leaders to “secure public trust” over her handling of the Covid pandemic, according to an analysis comparing the response of countries in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Only 4 days ago, Opinium, had the First Minister at 57% approval in Scotland compared to only 22% for the PM.

On 25th of September, they had the FM at exactly the same, 57%. I smell no fire.

As for the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic, don’t let the facts get in the way Neil:

  1. As of 22nd September, over the six months of the pandemic, the infection level in England has been 35% higher [5 849 per 1m in England compared to 4 315 per 1m in Scotland] and the death level has been 45% higher [658 per 1m compared to 458 per 1m] than in Scotland. From ONS and NRS data [1].
  2. In the last 7 days, the average death rate in Scotland is 0.9 [2] whereas for the UK it is 21.6 [3], crudely 24 times higher but twice as high per head of population.
  3. The gap could have been greater if Scotland had been independent and able to decide when to lock-down as opposed to having to wait until late March for powers to be devolved, by which time the virus was everywhere [4].
  4. Contact tracing in Scotland is operating at 99% efficiency [5]. This compares with between only 53% [6] and 79% [7] in England.
  5. According to UK Gov data in the Times, Covid test booking attempts were between 80% and 100% successful in Scotland while only between 20% and 60% successful in England and Wales [8].
  6. Care homes in England experienced the highest increase in excess deaths at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to those in the rest of the UK. Care homes in England recorded a 79 percent increase in excess deaths, compared to 66 percent in Wales, 62 percent in Scotland and 46 percent in Northern Ireland [9].
  7. Two large studies by the ONS and the voluntary sector care home-owner, MHA, found very strong evidence that the virus was inadvertently spread through care homes by temporary agency staff [10][11].
  8. There is NO evidence from any research that, in Scotland at least, the discharge of patients from hospitals into care homes caused the spread of the virus.
  9. The BMJ has made clear that the root cause of infections in care homes was corporate greed [12] .


Is being dim terminal as in accelerating your end?

Is the above list of evidence a bit brutal?













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7 thoughts on “Neil Mackay calls us ‘terminally dim!’ Good one!

  1. This is just another attempt at character assassination by the “Scottish” media.
    Beware false flag operators.
    “I would vote for independence, but……………not while the sky is blue”

    MacKay and McKenna.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. And so it transpires that the scientists of SAGE advised the Boris Junta weeks ago, that unless they had a “circuit breaker” the virus would spread, and a total lock down would result.
    Boris and Co ignored it—oh, other than some Tory chums/relatives/wives setting up bogus companies to get bunged some £billion government contracts.

    Meanwhile Sturgeon instituted a partial lock down in Scotland—to the frothing fury and outrage of our colonial media.
    Who does the public believe? Not the “Queens Shilling” lot.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. O/T I see BBC Scotland is aping the tabloid press again today.

    The BBC News website’s ‘Scotland’ page (on main page and on ‘politics’ page) has one of its prime articles today under this headline:

    ‘Covid in Scotland: Relaxed care home visiting rules ‘ill thought out’’

    It proceeds to give prominence to the voice to one businessman, the chair of the Balhousie Care Group who asserts that the new guidance on care home visits from the SG is “ill thought out”.

    But elsewhere – further down – in the same article we find this:

    1) “Some campaigners welcomed the decision ..” of the SG

    2) “Despite the easing, visiting will continue to be “restricted to outdoor and essential visits only” in the Glasgow, West and East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, and North and South Lanarkshire council areas.”

    3) “In a letter written to relatives, the (Balhousie) group said it supported enhanced visits but would continue with only garden and window visits for the time being.” – so the Balhousie Care Group is NOT even being being forced to change its practices as a result of the new guidance.

    4) “Natasha Hamilton, whose mother has dementia and is in a care home in East Kilbride, welcomed the visiting changes. But she expressed frustration that they do not apply to the five worst-hit health board areas.”

    5) ‘The charity Age Scotland said the changes were ‘a long time coming’. Brian Sloan, chief executive, said it would be the first time family members could hold the hand of their loved ones in almost seven months. He added: “It is essential that increased visits to care homes are now available to everyone, wherever possible”.’

    By all means publish the businessman’s assertion, but why – from across the spectrum of views expressed WITHIN its own article – does BBC Scotland choose both in its headline and in the key first paragraphs to give prominence to the most, the only outright negative and the most pejorative viewpoint: why does the public service broadcaster give prominence to the ONLY source that profits financially from caring for the elderly and vulnerable?

    It is not partisan, campaigning politically-motivated media organisations that would typically opt to use such a headline and give such prominence to THE MOST pejorative view on an important public issue during a public health emergency such as care home visits? Regrettably not: BBC Scotland’s editorial policy and practice seems indistinguishable to that of corporate media outlets – and this is a prime example.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Let’s dig a little deeper into Balhousie Care Group.

      Recall that the Chair of Balhousie is being given a prominent role by BBC Scotland today to voice his negative criticism of the Scottish Government and its guidance for care home visits. The guidance is ‘ill thought out’ he asserts.

      This is the company that was profiled in a newspaper article on 20 May 2019 where we learn:

      “A rise in occupancy levels helped Perth-based care home group Balhousie to record sales of £41 million last year.”

      “Last year Balhousie Holdings Limited’s turnover rose by more than £5m from £36.8m in 2017 to £41m for the year ending September 30.

      “The company’s pre-tax profits increased from £3.7m in 2017 to £5.9m last year.”


      But then there is this more recent insight into the company, remember the one whose Chair accuses the Scottish Government of issuing ‘ill thought out’ guidance. It’s from a Care Inspectorate report based on an inspection carried out on 23 September 2020 at the Balhousie Huntly Care Home.

      Source: (308220)

      Overall the report states: “How good is our care and support during the COVID-19 pandemic? Score 2 – Weak”

      There is much more detail on negative findings in the report. Here are some extracts. When reading what follows it’s important to remember the date of this inspection: 23 September 2020. This is NOT from an inspection early in 2020 i.e. before the challenges and requirements to manage care homes safely during the pandemic were perhaps fully appreciated – but in September 2020 AFTER all that has happened and should have been learned by the care home sector.

      “Information available to visitors on how to adhere to guidance on keeping safe and stopping cross contamination was clear. … However, there was no clear system in place for these areas to be cleaned between visits. This increased the risks of cross contamination.”

      “We were concerned that the twelve people who attended a tea party lived in different areas of the home, and this did not support people socialising in a smaller bubble to reduce the risks of cross infection.“

      “… we were concerned that at lunchtime staff were not adhering to guidance on keeping people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw; that foods spilled at breakfast remained on the dining room floor until after the lunch service. Staff did not assist people to wash their hands before or after their meal. Table settings had not been spaced to support social distancing. Staff were not seen to not wash their hands been assisting people with their meal. Improvements must be made to infection control practices and adherence to guidance on how best to support people to remain healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

      “We reviewed anticipatory care plans. …. These were not all in place. This meant staff did not have the information on how that person wanted to be cared and supported for in the event of their declining health.”

      “We identified infection control practices that caused concern.”

      “… we found some equipment dirty, soft furnishings, such as chairs, stained and some items such as side tables and mattresses were not intact. This made cleaning these items difficult.”

      “… we did not observe staff washing their hands frequently or when appropriate. This increased the risk to people of cross contamination. We were told “resident’s hands are washed if they are noted to be dirty”. This increased the risk of cross contamination and did not support keeping people healthy.“

      “we observed staff fail to support two people with the safe disposal of a tissue after coughing. Staff were seen to wear gloves when assisting people with personal care and then not remove them after the task. For example, we observed one staff member attend to someone, keep her gloves on and then go onto touch doors, chairs and residents before removing the gloves. This practice significantly increased the risks of cross contamination and put the health and wellbeing of people at risk. “

      “PPE was discarded in general bins and these were in sluices and resident rooms. We observed staff walking through the unit wearing contaminated PPE in order to dispose of it in suitable bins in the sluice. This put the health and wellbeing of people at risk.”

      “We identified concerns with safe practices in the laundry. …. Improvements need to be made to the organisation, storage and safe laundry practises, in order to reduce the risks of cross contamination and to keep people safe.”

      “Important infection prevention and control audits were blank. This meant that the areas of practice that have caused us concern, had not been identified by the service. There were no audits of staff practice that would have identified any deficits in training or poor practice.”

      “The service was unable to provide a contingency plan for what would happen in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak that affected carers and nurse’s availability. We could not be confident that the service had a system in place to ensure there were sufficient staff on shift to meet the needs of people, in the event of an outbreak of COVID- 19. “

      “We were unable to obtain an overview of staff training in the service.“ and (unbelievably) “Staff were unaware of HPS COVID-19 information and guidance for care home settings. … We found that throughout the service there was limited access to guidance and information on COVID-19. This meant that staff did not have access to the information to inform their practice during the pandemic. “

      “There appeared to be no observation of staff practice.” and “Staff who had been employed during the COVID-19 pandemic did not have any infection control, hand washing and correct use of PPE training as part of their induction. The expectation was that new staff would work alongside their peers and learn as they went. This concerned us because of the observations of unsafe infection control practices we had seen, it meant that new staff would not be learning good principles of infection control. “ You may wish to re-read this.

      And just for context, the company describes its Huntly home thus:

      “As the newest property in our group of homes, Balhousie Huntly is purpose-built to provide the very highest standards in the care of the elderly.

      The home benefits from the very latest in specialist design features which provide residents with a spacious, modern yet comfortable environment for them to feel safe and at home.”

      So now you know!

      And given the alacrity that BBC Scotland pounces on any shortcoming of public bodies in Scotland and especially NHS Scotland, the public service broadcaster will surely wish at the very least – politely and ever so gently (of course) – to ask the businessman whose views it’s amplifying today about the inspection of his Huntly care home!

      Liked by 1 person

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